China’s Anticorruption Campaign and Entrepreneurship

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This paper investigates the causal effect of corruption on entrepreneurship. We use staggered anticorruption investigations in China as exogenous shocks to conduct difference-in-differences estimation and find that the country’s anticorruption campaign has a sizeable positive effect on entrepreneurship, especially in urban areas, areas with high levels of trust, and areas with short verdict processes after investigation. We discuss four plausible mechanisms for the positive effect of the anticorruption campaign: reduced rent seeking, improved government quality, technology spillover from innovation, and the easing of financial constraints for non-state-owned enterprises. Our results are robust to a battery of tests based on different specifications and alternative measures. Overall, this study provides a timely evaluation of the importance of anticorruption efforts in a typical emerging market.

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