Social Fragmentation, Public Goods and Elections: Evidence from China

This study examines the influence of voter heterogeneity, measured as religious fractionalization, on how the introduction of elections affects public goods in rural China. We document religious composition and the introduction of village-level elections for over two hundred villages and examine the interaction effect of average heterogeneity and the introduction of elections on village-government provision of public goods. We find that the increase in public goods due to elections declines with heterogeneity of villages, which we interpret as evidence that voter heterogeneity constrains the potential benefits of introducing elections.