The politics of unfunded mandates : the intergovernmental fiscal relationships and political structure in China
How do lower-level governments respond to unfunded or underfunded mandates in the particular political structure of the unitary government in China? Unfunded or underfunded mandates can include (1) operating budget mandates that require local governments to finance particular functional operations such as a salary or bonus increase for public servants and (2) capital budget mandates that require local governments to finance long-term outlays or projects such as building water treatment plants to comply with new national water standards. This study examines the impact of policy and program mandates from higher-level governments to lower-level governments when the higher-level government provides inadequate funding to pay for those mandates. The main focus of this research is the question of how governments at lower levels respond, the extent to which they comply or resist, and the techniques they use to adapt to these mandates in various policy areas. Using a case study design and qualitative methodology, this dissertation describes the politics of unfunded mandates and the intergovernmental relations in China, analyzing the politics between the local governments and the center, as well as the politics between different levels of local government, demonstrating the impact of structure on process.