In view of the current situation relating to the coronavirus in Singapore, it is with much regret that we will have to re-schedule the EAI Seminar below. Our sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused.


Career Incentives, Elite Competition and Economic Growth in China


Dr Lee Jonghyuk
Assistant Professor, China Programme, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Nanyang Technological University


Friday, 21 February 2020, 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm


EAI Conference Room
NUS Bukit Timah Campus
469A Bukit Timah Road
Tower Block #06-01
Singapore 259770


This seminar addresses the question of how bureaucratic incentives affect economic performance in China at the provincial level. The speaker has developed a novel model to measure promotion incentives of Chinese provincial standing committee members from 1995 to 2015. Using machine learning techniques to incorporate over 200 variables of individual features, the speaker derived a predicted probability of political advancement (i.e. prior likelihood of promotion) as a proxy to evaluate officials’ career prospects. The empirical results show that Chinese provincial governments are likely to generate higher economic growth rates when a greater proportion of officials face intense competition for promotion. On the other hand, when provincial leaders are at a career dead end or on a fast track, there is no effect on local economic development. Contrary to popular belief, better economic performance stems mainly from the career incentives of the rank-and-file of standing committee members and not from those of supreme leaders of the province, such as the party secretary and the governor.

About the Speaker:

Lee Jonghyuk is assistant professor of the China Programme at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. He is interested in studying elite politics and comparative political economy with a substantial focus on the People’s Republic of China. His research encompasses a wide range of topics associated with the Chinese political system, such as collecting biographical and career data of political elites, identifying the determinants of political promotions and demotions, measuring network connections between central and local cadres, and predicting career outcomes by adopting a variety of machine learning techniques. Prior to RSIS, he received a PhD degree in political science and international affairs from the University of California, San Diego and a MA degree in East Asian Studies from Harvard University.

Pre-event registration is not needed for EAI Seminars. Admission is free.
For enquiries, please contact the Institute at 65163708 / 67791037 or email: or