How Has Rural Tax Reform Affected Farmers and Local Governance in China?



Using nationally representative data, the present paper examines the impact of China's ongoing rural tax reform on farmers. The difficulties in further local governance restructuring are also discussed. It is argued that the issues associated with rural taxation and local governance in China result from inherent tension between an increasingly liberalized economic system and a still centralized political system. Although rural tax reform has helped to reduce farmers' tax burdens in the short term, the establishment of an effective local governance regime requires coordinated reforms to downsize local bureaucracy by providing social security for laid-off cadres, to strengthen local accountability by granting higher local formal tax autonomy, and to promote meaningful participation by expanding local democracy.