Final Paper: Policy Memo to China’s Leadership

(Final) Short Paper #4

What economic policy choices do you believe matter the most between now and 2020? That of course is too broad a question for a short paper. Furthermore, what you believe should be important is not what matters. Instead, Wallace’s Cities and Stability provides a specific political economy framework for understanding which policies are likely to matter from the perspective of China’s leadership.

Your assignment: as an advisor to Premier Xi, you have been tasked to draft a position paper on one specific issue. Outline for him why the policy matters, what his options are, and (on the basis of costs and benefits) what you believe he should do. That can, of course, include ignoring the problem, because you judge the costs of acting outweigh those of doing nothing. But you need to justify your position.

In your introduction, you may want to indicate your sense of the top issues that the leadership faces between now and 2020. That however should be limited to a couple sentences; “others are doing position papers on X, Y and Z”. You paper you need to focus on one and only one. You don’t need to provide justification – it can be the topic that interests you most, and not the one you believe is most important. So your main task in the introduction is to give a sense of why it is important. Wallace provides a very specific framework for thinking about that, in his thesis that “urban bias” has driven and will continue to drive policy. Ground your choice in his framework.

Having done that, what are the particular choices that Premier Xi Jinping and his leadership team face? What are the tradeoffs of various policy responses, what are the costs? What is the cost of doing nothing?

Having set forth options, take a position on what Xi should do. You need to conclude with your own judgement of how difficult this might be. Given the decentralized nature of China, is this something that money and normal policy tools can address? Or is it such that it would run up against fundamental institutional or political structures and hence require an unusual effort on his part? Remember that he can’t have 10 major priorities, because that’s tantamount to having no priorities!

Target length 5 pages, not including any graphs, tables or other materials. You should of course employ good prose, use in-line citations plus a bibliography (try Zotero, using the Chicago style for output). You are free to use the Williams School Writing Consultants. See you for office hours as well?!

Due Saturday 9 April 2016 at the start of final exams at my office in hard copy. I don’t want this paper interfering with finals, plus I leave town Detroit for a black-tie award ceremony (giving, not receiving) following by a conference.