Yu Xiao (肖宇) is a PhD candidate in the Political Science Department at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research focuses on comparative political economy in China and Latin America and China-Latin America Relations.
Her dissertation examines why authoritarian regimes implement economic decentralization policies.
She approaches this question from a top-down perspective, that is, to examine the national government's incentives. Using a game-theoretical framework, she contends that high levels of political centralization can enhance the national government's trust in subnational governments and facilitate economic decentralization. On the other hand, low levels of political centralization can lower such trust and therefore spawn the economic centralization incentives at the national level.
To verify this theory, she uses the theory-testing process-tracing method to compare two party-based authoritarian regimes, namely China in the 1950s and Mexico from 1917 to 1947. Currently she finds supportive evidence that the high level of political centralization in China in the 1950s contributed to the economic decentralization policies during the Great Leap Forward. Compared to China, the relatively low level of political centralization helped explain the fiscal centralization efforts in Mexico.