Countless studies have shown that local officials are less responsive to ethnic minority citizens. Surprisingly, we find no similar pattern of discrimination by Taiwanese local officials. In an online contacting experiment, we send citizen service requests to the websites of 358 township and district chiefs, randomly varying the name of the putative citizen to reflect an indigenous or an ethnically Chinese identity and collecting data on officials' responses. We find that officials are equally responsive to both identities. Drawing on in-depth interviews and nonparticipant observation in government service centers, we attribute this surprising finding to institutional elements of Taiwan's local bureaucracy that limit the impact of individual-level bias. However, our research provides preliminary evidence that local governments are generally less responsive in indigenous areas. While clearly defined procedures may prevent discrimination against indigenous individuals, interregional differences in local state capacity can nonetheless produce unequal experiences with local governance.
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Newland, Sara A. and Liu, John Chung En, "Ethnic Identity and Local Government Responsiveness in Taiwan" (2021). Government: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.
Archived as published. Open access article.