Do corrupt firms create negative externality and hurt less corrupt ones? I answer this question by exploring cross-industry distribution of taxation, credit, and corruption over local political cycles in China. It is known that capital-intensive firms are more likely to be corrupt. The paper argues that preferential treatment in taxation or credit allocation towards corrupt firms must result in detrimental treatment against others when governments face resource constraints, and that corruption is generally conducted through political network that expands and shrinks over political cycles. Using the variation in turnover of secretaries of the Chinese Communist Party in 275 prefectures between 2000 and 2007, I find that, as the tenure of the secretaries increases, enforcement of both VAT and corporate income tax as well as access to credit all change in favour of capital-intensive industries but to the detriment of labour-intensive counterparts. I then use the firm-level Entertainment and Travel Cost (ETC) as a proxy of corruption and find that the variation of cross-industry distribution of ETC over secretaries' tenure is in line with the variation in taxation and credit allocation. The finding suggests that corruption may not reduce overall distortions in the economy but only shifts distortions across economic agents.
|Name||Economics Discussion Papers|