Negative Media Shock and Political Turnover in China: Evidence from Coal Mine Accidents


By examining the effects of coal mine safety accidents on political turnover, this paper examines the effect of the media on political accountability in China. Under the assumption that the municipal party secretary is responsible for accidents involving safety violations leading to the loss of lives, and using the number of deaths to proxy for the severity of accidents, we find that negative media coverage of safety accidents both increases the possibility of retirement as well as decreasing the chance of promotion of the municipal officials — depending crucially on whether an official was an “elite candidate” who would have enjoyed a significantly higher chance of promotion in the absence of the accident. Moreover, we also find that the marginal effect of media exposure is affected by both an official's length of tenure and the local political cycle.

R&R In Journal of Comparative Economics