Wen-Chin Wu 吳文欽

A Political Scientist In Taiwan

About Me

Hello! I am an associate research fellow of the Institute of Political Science at Academia Sinica (IPSAS), Taiwan.

My research focuses on comparative and international political economy, comparative authoritarianism, and Chinese politics. I am particularly interested in the economic statecraft and media politics in dictatorships. You can find my published works here.

I received my B.A. from National Chengchi University, M.A. from National Chengchi University (NCCU) and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, and Ph.D. from Michigan State University. Before joining the IPSAS, I was a postdoctoral fellow of the Asian Barometer Survey co-hosted by the IPSAS and National Taiwan University. During the 2019-20 academic year, I was a visiting scholar at the Harvard-Yenching Institute at Harvard University. I am currently the coordinator of Institute of Political Methodology. I am also the executive editor of Chinese Political Science Review.

I can be reached at wenchinwu[at]sinica.edu.tw. Here is my CV.





我的電子郵件信箱是 wenchinwu[at]sinica.edu.tw,若您要查閱我的中文履歷,請按此


Journal Articles

Barceló, Joan, Greg Chih-Hsin Sheen, Hans H. Tung, and Wen-Chin Wu. 2022. “Vaccine Nationalism among the Public: A Cross-country Experimental Evidence of Own-country Bias towards COVID-19 Vaccination.” Social Science & Medicine 310: 115278.


What types of vaccines are citizens most likely to accept? We argue that citizens' identification with their nation may lead them to prefer vaccines developed and produced within their national borders, to the exclusion and/or detriment of vaccines from other nations. We administered a conjoint experiment requesting 15,000 adult citizens across 14 individual countries from around the world to assess 450,000 profiles of vaccines that randomly varied on seven attributes. Beyond vaccine fundamentals such as efficacy rate, number of doses, and duration of the protection, we find that citizens systematically favor vaccines developed and produced in their own country of residence. The extent of preference in favor of vaccines developed and produced within the national borders is particularly large among citizens who identify more strongly with their nation, suggesting nationalism plays a role in explaining the bias in favor of vaccines developed and produced locally. This public opinion bias on vaccine preferences has significant theoretical and practical implications.
Kagotani, Koji, and Wen-Chin Wu. 2022. “When do Diplomatic Protests Boomerang? Foreign Protests against U.S. Arms Sales and Domestic Public Support in Taiwan.” International Studies Quarterly 66(3): sqac043.


Diplomatic protests convey one government’s displeasure with the policies of another government. Yet public support for their own government’s policies can be influenced by the actions of others, so diplomatic protests have the potential to increase domestic support for the policy within the target country. A rally-’round-the-flag effect has been found to be associated with wars, crises, and sanctions. Here, we assess the existence of such an effect in relation to diplomatic protests by foreign governments. Using a survey experiment, we assess the impact of foreign government protests—specifically protests by China—against U.S. arms sales to Taiwan on public support for Taiwan’s government and its policies. We find that who lodges the protest, whether it is an adversary or supporter, is more important than the language of the protest itself. We argue that diplomatic protests create a dilemma—lodging complaints about the behavior of other governments can increase public support for those very policies in the target country.
Chang, Eric C. C., and Wen-Chin Wu. 2022. “Autocracy and Human Capital.” World Development 157: 105929.


This paper examines the logic of human capital formation in authoritarian regimes based on theories of inequality and regime transition and the prospect of upward mobility model. Our central argument is that by investing in human capital, dictators can boost citizens’ perceived levels of social mobility. Consequently, dictators can preemptively ameliorate the pressure for redistribution from the poor and neutralize threats from the masses. In other words, dictators invest in human capital as a way of increasing citizens’ perceived social mobility and thus sustaining political stability in their authoritarian regimes. Our cross-national analysis covers more than 80 authoritarian regimes from 1970 to 2010 and shows that higher levels of education spending are associated with a lower probability of regime breakdown in autocracies. We further use a causal mediation analysis with the Asian Barometer Survey data and connect our causal link from human capital formation to perceived social mobility and then to authoritarian regime support.
Sheen, Greg Chih-Hsin, Hans H. Tung, and Wen-Chin Wu. 2022. “Power Sharing and Media Freedom in Dictatorships.” Political Communication 39(2): 202-221.


This article investigates the relationship between elite power sharing and media freedom in dictatorships. While conventional wisdom posits that dictators have a strong incentive to control the media, they also need information to sustain their authoritarian rule. In this article, we argue that dictators need to allow for a higher level of media freedom when sharing more power with other elites. Specifically, dictators create transparency through media freedom to induce trust and cooperation among elites within the regime. We confirm the hypothesis by analyzing data from 98 dictatorships from 1960 to 2010. Our finding is robust to different model specifications. This article contributes to the literature by showing that authoritarian media freedom is determined by not only dictators' need for local information as the conventional wisdom suggests, but also the power dynamics within their ruling coalitions.
Wu, Wen-Chin Wu. 2022. “Partisanship, Ideology, Constituent Economic Interest, and Trade Politics in American Congress: The Case of the TPP.” EurAmerica . 52(1): 1-41. (In Chinese)
【吳文欽。2022。〈黨派立場、意識形態與選區經濟利益交織下的美國國會貿易政治:以「跨太平洋夥伴協定」為例〉,《歐美研究》,52(1): 1-41。】


Previous studies have shown that trade politics in the US Congress is determined by congressional partisanship, ideology, and constitu-ents’ economic interests. In this article, I utilize the case of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the theoretical perspective of the litera-ture on China’s trade shock to investigate how these three factors af-fected US congressional representatives’ support for the TPP in 2015. Based on the results of quantitative analysis, this article finds that con-gressional support for the TPP was determined by partisanship, ideol-ogy, and their electoral district’s trade with China. Specifically, Repub-lican and conservative congressional representatives were more likely to support the TPP than Democrats and liberals. Districts importing more from China were more likely to support the TPP. These findings enrich our understanding of trade politics in the US Congress in the age of US-China competition.
美國國會的貿易政治向來受到議員的黨派立場、意識形態,以及選區的經濟利益所影響。本文以「跨太平洋夥伴協定」為分析對象,並援引學界針對「中國貿易衝擊」的理論視角,探討上述因素如何影響美國國會議員針對TPP相關法案的投票。本文透過實證分析,發現共和黨籍議員、意識形態越趨右派 (保守派) 之議員,以及選區面臨更多中國進口品競爭之議員,越傾向投票支持美國參與TPP。這些發現有助於我們理解中美競爭的國際架構下,美國國會貿易政治的新面貌。
Tung, Hans H., and Wen-Chin Wu. 2021. “What Can Comparative Authoritarianism Tell Us About China Under Xi Jinping (and Vice Versa)?” Issues & Studies 57(4): 2150013.


This paper evaluates the progress and impact of the literature on comparative authoritarianism, showing not only how its development over the previous two decades can help us understand China’s authoritarian politics better, but also how the latter can move the former forward. We focus on two important topic areas in the literature: authoritarian power-sharing and autocratic politics of information (e.g., partial media freedom and government censorship). For the first topic, we shall review the literature on the authoritarian power-sharing between dictators and their allies and explicate how this conceptual innovation helps us understand the institutional foundation of China’s regime stability and phenomenal economic performance before Xi Jinping. The analysis then provides us a baseline for assessing China’s economic and political future under Xi Jinping given his clear departure from the pre-existing power-sharing framework. Finally, this paper also assesses the relevance of the literature on authoritarian politics of information to the Chinese context. In sum, we not only emphasize the conceptual contributions of the literature of comparative authoritarianism to the field of Chinese politics, but also identify lacunae in the current literature and avenues for future research that post-Xi political developments have made visible to us.
Sheen, Greg Chih-Hsin, Hans H. Tung, and Wen-Chin Wu. 2021. “Citizen Journalism Reduces the Credibility Deficit of Authoritarian Government in Risk Communication amid COVID-19 Outbreaks.” PLOS ONE 16(12):e0260961.


During the outbreak of an epidemic, the success in risk communications to make the public comply with disease preventive measures depends on the public's trust in the government. In this study, we aim to understand how media audiences update their trust in the government during the COVID-19 outbreak depending on the information they received. We conducted an online survey experiment in February 2020 in Hong Kong (n= 1,016) in which respondents were randomly provided with a government press release and an endorsement either from an official or a non-official source. This study shows that the information from a non-official source enhances the credibility of official government messages. Our findings imply that dictators can actually "borrow credibility" from their citizen journalists and even nondemocratic leaders can make themselves more trustworthy to potential dissenters through citizen journalism. Allowing information flow from non-official sources can be a practical measure for governments to address the problem of a credibility deficit during a pandemic.
Lai, Ding-Yi, Jen-Der Lue, and Wen-Chin Wu. 2021. "Intergenerational Mobility and Preference for Redistribution: Evidence from East Asia." Journal of Asian Public Policy 14(1): 45-62.


Conventional wisdom posits that intergenerational social mobility reduces individual preference for redistribution. Yet, this thesis is drawn from the case of democracies, where electoral competition plays a key role in redistribution. In this study, we argue that intergenerational social mobility’s effect on individual preference for redistribution differs in dictatorships, where the state is the key decision-maker of redistribution. With the data of the fourth wave of the Asian Barometer Survey, we find that citizens’ upward intergenerational social mobility increases with their support for government-led redistribution in autocracies. This finding contributes to the understanding of individual preference for redistribution in dictatorships.
Wu, Wen-Chin, and Fangjin Ye. 2020. “Preferential Trade Agreements, Democracy, and the Risk of Coups d'état.” Social Science Quarterly 101(5): 1834-1849.


We seek to investigate the impact of preferential trade agreements (PTAs) on coups d’état. We argue that signing PTAs lowers the risk of coups because it acts as a credible commitment of signatory countries to pursuing long‐term economic benefits, which further reduces potential challengers’ incentives to initiate coups. In addition, the effect of PTAs is larger in democracies because democratic signatories are perceived to be more credible in upholding treaty commitments than their authoritarian counterparts. We employ binary time‐series cross‐sectional (BTSCS) models to examine a sample of 154 countries between 1960 and 2012. We find that signing PTAs reduces risks of coups, especially in countries with higher levels of democratic development. Our study sheds light on how PTAs can prolong leader survival through reducing the likelihood of coups and contributes to emerging studies on the consequences of signing PTAs in the age of economic globalization.
Wu, Wen-Chin. 2020. “Rethinking Coalition Size and Trade Policies in Authoritarian Regimes: Are Single-Party Dictatorships Less Protectionist?” Party Politics 26(2): 143-153.


Recent studies find that single-party dictatorships are more open to trade due to their larger coalitions than other types of dictatorships. However, this line of research assumes that the preference for trade policies is homogeneous among members of the coalition. This assumption means existing studies fail to explain why single-party dictatorships have more dispersed and complex tariffs rates, an alternative form of protectionism. In this article, I argue that the heterogeneous preferences for free trade among social groups lead to tariff complexity under dictatorships with large coalitions. When dictators need to build larger coalitions, they do not need to exclude all special interest groups but to respond to heterogeneous demands of trade policies in a more selective way. Thus, politicians under single-party dictatorships are more likely to set ad hoc tariffs to favor different members in their coalitions, resulting in complex tariff schedules.
Pan, Hsin-Hsin, Wen-Chin Wu, and Yu-Tzung Chang. 2020. “Does cross-Strait Tourism Induce Peace? Evidence from Survey Data on Chinese Tourists and non-Tourists.” International Relations of the Asia-Pacific 20(1): 149-191.


Recent studies revisit the debate over whether tourism promotes peace via intergroup contacts. In this article, we examine the case of China-Taiwan confrontation and argue that the increase of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan contributes to peace across the Taiwan Strait. Specifically, the touristic experiences and interactions with Taiwanese improve Chinese people’s understanding of Taiwan, fostering a patient and peaceful attitude toward the prospect of cross-Strait relations. With the survey data collected during July and September 2013, we find that Chinese people who were visiting Taiwan for the first time were less likely to support a rapid pace to the unification between China and Taiwan or unification by force than those who had never visited Taiwan. Additionally, the attitude is stronger among independent tourists than those who came in escorted tour groups. Our findings suggest that contacts between tourists and locals are effective in alleviating political tension across the Taiwan Strait.
Wu, Wen-Chin, and Yu-Tzung Chang. 2019. “Income Inequality, Distributive Unfairness, and Support for Democracy: Evidence from East Asia and Latin America.” Democratization 26(8): 1175-1492.


Concern about rising economic inequality is widespread among ordinary citizens, academics, and policymakers. In particular, income inequality not only intensifies the conflicts between the rich and poor citizens but also leads to political instability. In this article, we investigate how income inequality is related to people’s support for democracy by including both objective and subjective measures of inequality. Using data collected from 28 democracies in East Asia and Latin America during 2013 and 2015, we demonstrate that inequality, measured in either a subjective or objective way, decreases with people’s satisfaction with democracy. In addition, we find that in East Asian countries, subjective measures of inequality, perceived unfairness of income inequality in particular, provide a better explanation of people’s dissatisfaction with democracy than the Gini index, a commonly used objective measure of inequality. Our findings are robust to different model specifications and offer micro-level evidence suggesting that unfair income distribution undermines the consolidation of democracies.
Wu, Wen-Chin. 2019. “Big Government Sentiment and Support for Protectionism in East Asia.” International Political Science Review 40(1): 73-89.


While previous studies find that individual preferences for trade policies are shaped by economic and non-economic factors, it is still unclear whether people’s perception of their government’s role in citizens’ lives affects their attitudes toward free trade. In view of the “developmental state” legacy in East Asia, I investigate how the “big government sentiment” in East Asians’ mindset is associated with their support for protectionism. Based on the data of the third-wave Asian Barometer Survey conducted during 2010 and 2012, I find that when people think that government should bear a major responsibility for the wellbeing of its people, they are more supportive of protectionist policies. This finding contributes to studies of East Asian political economy as well as the formation of individual trade policy preference.
Pan, Hsin-Hsin, Wen-Chin Wu, and Yu-Tzung Chang. 2017. “How Chinese Citizens Perceive the Cross-Strait Relations: Survey Results in Ten Major Cities of China.” Journal of Contemporary China 26(106): 616-631.


While many studies have investigated Taiwanese people’s attitudes towards cross-Strait relations, few studies explore how Chinese people on the other side of the Taiwan Strait perceive the Taiwan issue. Using data collected via a telephone survey that covers 2,000 respondents from ten major cities in China in 2013, this article presents empirical evidence to fill this gap. It finds that most Chinese citizens’ attitudes are aligned with the government’s propaganda on cross-Strait relations. In particular, Chinese citizens have inaccurate perceptions of Taiwanese support for reunification with China. This article also finds that when Chinese respondents think that the city in which they live is more economically advanced than Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, they would support: (1) a faster pace towards a resolution, and (2) the use of military force to resolve cross-Strait confrontations. These findings offer new perspectives on studies of cross-Strait relations and Chinese nationalism.
Pan, Hsin-Hsin, Wen-Chin Wu, and Yu-Tzung Chang. 2017. “Does China's Middle Class Prefer (Liberal) Democracy?” Democratization 24(2): 347-366.


Many surveys show that China’s political regime, under the Chinese Communist Party’s authoritarian rules, enjoys a high level of public support. However, it is still uncertain whether China’s emerging middle class will become the “agent of democratization” as suggested by modernization theory. Using the data of Asian Barometer Survey conducted in China in 2011, this article demonstrates that the relationship between class identity and preference for liberal democracy in China may be inverted U-shaped. The Chinese middle class shows a higher preference to features of liberal democratic regimes than its counterparts of the lower- and upper-class. Members of the Chinese middle class also tend to regard democracy as the best form of government. Thus, the middle class has the potential to initiate democratization in China if the Chinese government fails to keep satisfying the middle class’ quest for economic well-being and protection of property rights.
Chang, Eric. C. C, and Wen-Chin Wu. 2017. “Preferential Trade Agreements, Income Inequality, and Authoritarian Survival.” Political Research Quarterly 69(2): 281-294.

PDF  Replication

This paper investigates the political and economic consequences of signing preferential trade agreements (PTAs) in authoritarian countries. Based on the Heckscher–Ohlin model of international trade and theories of inequality and regime transition, this paper argues that dictators sign PTAs as a means of consolidating their authoritarian rule. Specifically, PTAs help dictators reduce economic inequality by enriching poor laborers and thereby attenuating the threat of regime collapse. We support our theory with the data from seventy-odd authoritarian regimes from 1960 to 2006, and contribute to ongoing debates about the effects of both income inequality and economic globalization on autocratic resilience.
Wu, Wen-Chin. 2017. “When do Dictators Decide to Liberalize Trade Regimes? Inequality and Trade Openness in Authoritarian Countries.” International Studies Quarterly 59(4): 790-801.

PDF  Replication

This paper investigates how authoritarian leaders employ trade openness as a response to rising inequality. Based on the Heckscher–Ohlin model of international trade and models of democratic transition, I argue that unskilled laborers in authoritarian regimes can benefit from engaging in international trade, thus becoming more compliant to the authoritarian rules as their countries integrate into the world economy. Therefore, dictators in labor-abundant countries expand trade to neutralize democratization threats initiated by rising inequality. My argument uses supporting data from around eighty authoritarian regimes during the period from 1963 to 2003. I address endogeneity problems with dynamic panel data and instrumental variable regression models in this paper. My analyses suggest that economic globalization helps strengthen authoritarian regimes.
Wu, Wen-Chin. 2015. “Strategic Interaction and Empirical Models: An Application of Statistical Backward Induction to the US Special 301 Report.” Taiwanese Political Science Review 19(1): 99-145. [In Chinese]
【吳文欽。2015。〈策略互動與實證分析: 逆推統計法及其於外交政策研究的應用〉,《台灣政治學刊》,19(1): 99–145。】


While conventional statistical methods usually assume that the error term in the models are independent and identically distributed (i.i.d.), this assumption is usually violated when observations are interdependent due to the strategic interactions among players. The violation of the i.i.d assumption results in the inefficient estimation of standard errors that can further invalidate the hypothesis testing. This paper discusses the method of statistical backward induction (SBI) developed by Curtis S. Signorino and his coauthors that can be used to analyze different kinds of strategic interactions in politics, such as electoral competitions, party coalitions, and international conflicts. After demonstrating how to derive the SBI estimator, this paper applies SBI to analyze how the U.S. government uses the Special 301 Report to coerce its trade partners into protecting the intellectual property rights (IPR) of American products. It shows that one country’s trade surplus with the U.S. is a key determinant for the U.S. to nominate this trade partner in the Special 301 Report. Meanwhile, it is the dependence on the U.S. market that affects the nominated country’s decision to ignore or comply with the U.S. threat of trade retaliation implied by the Special 301 Report.
政治學的諸多主題,例如選舉競爭、政黨結盟、以及國際衝突等,皆涉及到行為者之間的策略互動。本文引介近來在美國政治學界新興的統計模型:「逆推統計法」(statistical backward induction),此模型的特色在於使用改良後的統計方法,驗證由賽局模型所推導出的策略互動,進而符合「理論模型的實證意涵」(empirical implications of theoretical models, EITM)的研究典範。本文「隨機效用模型」(random utility model)出發,探討一般常見的「樣本選擇模型」(sample selection model)與「巢狀勝算對數模型」(nested logit model)為何無法有效處理具有策略互動性質的資料,並逐步解釋「逆推統計法」如何結賽局理論與統計模型來分析這類資料。本文最後採用「逆推統計法」,一方面分析影響美國貿易代表處如何擬定「特別三○一名單」,以及被列名國家如何回應的因素,一方面說明如何將「逆推統計法」應用於外交政策的實證研究。

Chang, Eric C. C., Yun-han Chu, and Wen-Chin Wu. 2014. “Consenting to Lose or Expecting to Win? Inter-temporal Changes in Voters’ Winner-loser Status and Satisfaction with Democracy.” In Elections and Representative Democracy: Representation and Accountability, ed. Jacques Thomassen, 232-253. New York: Oxford University Press.

This chapter extends the winner–loser gap thesis by analysing how inter-temporal changes in voters’ winner–loser status over time affect their democratic support in emerging democracies. The chapter conceptualizes elections in democracies as repeated games and argue that voters’ democratic attitudes are not just determined by their one-shot winner–loser status alone; instead, voters’ democratic attitudes are determined by their winner–loser status in past elections as well as their expectation for the future. With the CSES II data in six young democracies that experienced government turnover, the chapter shows that winning the current election restores the democratic support among previous losers, and losing the current election may not necessarily result in lower democratic attitudes if those losers had been winners in the previous election. The findings not only advance our understanding of the winner–loser gap thesis pioneered by Anderson and Guillory but also contribute to research on Huntington’s two-turnover test in the democratization literature.
Fu, Ronan Tse-min, Hsin-Hsin Pan, and Wen-Chin Wu. 2021. “Nationalism, Generalized Trust, and Chinese Citizens' Attitude toward US Influence..” In China's New Foreign Policy: Comparative Perspectives from Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea, eds. Rumi Aoyama, Suk Hee Han, and Tung-chieh Tsai, 101-124. Taipei: Wu-Nan. (In Chinese)

Leng, Tse-Kang, Wen-Chin Wu, Yu-shan Wu, and Chien-en Wu 2019. Sense and Sensitivity of Political Science: Selected Works of Jih-wen Lin. . Taipei: Institute of Political Science at Academia Sinica. (In Chinese) [Preface]
Wu, Wen-Chin, and Tse-Kang Leng. 2019. “Jih-wen Lin's Research on cross-Strait Relations.” (With Tse-Kang Leng). 2019. In Sense and Sensibility of Political Science: Selected Works of Jih-wen Lin, eds. Tse-Kang Leng, Wen-Chin Wu, Yu-shan Wu, and Chien-en Wu, 353-359. Taipei: Institute of Political Science at Academia Sinica. (In Chinese)
Wu, Wen-Chin. 2020. “International Trade and Finance.” In International Relations , eds. Ya-chung Chang and Teng-chi Chang, 356-385. Taipei: Yang-Chih. (In Chinese)
Chu, Yun-han, Hsin-Hsin Pan, and Wen-Chin Wu. 2015. “Regime Legitimacy in East Asia: Why Non-Democratic States Fare Better than Democracies.” Global Asia 10(3): 98-105.
Wu, Wen-Chin. 2006. Breaking the BRICs: On the Local Foundations and Externality of Economic Development in China.” Political Science Quarterly Book Review 10: 13-20. (In Chinese)

“Tell Me the Truth? Dictatorship and the Commitment to Media Freedom.” (With Greg Chih-Hsin Sheen and Hans H. Tung)
“China’s Economic Weight on the Scale of Sino-US Confrontation — Evidence from the United Nations General Assembly Voting Data.” (With Ronan Tse-Min Fu and Hsin-Hsin Pan)





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