2012 December 21 Friday
Intense Competition For Chinese Civil Service Jobs

The Chinese imperial civil service exam system for selecting mandarins to work in the Chinese government still lives. Less than 1 in 50 score high enough to win a place in the Chinese government.

On November 23 and 24, over 1.12 million Chinese across the country flooded to universities and schools to take the annual national civil service exam and jostle with one another for 20,839 positions. This amounts to a chance in every 54 people. But for some plum jobs, such as those at the customs and the taxation bureaus, the competition is extremely fierce acceptance rates can be as low as one in 8,000.

Plum jobs: the jobs which enable the most income from bribery?

The key question: Is the Chinese government becoming more or less corrupt?

If you could set policy in China how would you recruit people to the government who were less prone to corruption? One can test for smarts. How to test for virtue?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2012 December 21 10:48 PM 

Mthson said at December 22, 2012 1:29 AM:

I think building great incentives and culture are more important than testing.

Incentives: Prominently feature an undercover corruption program, in which those who reject bribes get rewards and highly visible public attention.

Disincentives: For those who accept the bribes, make the punishment miserable and likewise highly visible. Because humans hate work, Siberian work camps are probably the strongest disincentive, and unlike conventional prisons, they aren't a massive drain on society's finances.

People are happier when they're good, so we do them a favor by making it not pay to have low character. But the signals have to be highly visible, or they get lost in the noise.

Wolf-Dog said at December 22, 2012 7:56 AM:

Randall Parker wrote: "One can test for smarts. How to test for virtue?"


Fortunately there are many excellent personality tests that can detect virtue and eliminate corrupt candidates. I admit that such psychological tests are less objective than intelligence tests that measure quantitative and logical abilities, but nevertheless these tests are highly effective if used correctly.

Randall Parker said at December 22, 2012 9:53 AM:


Corrupt people can learn what answers to supply on a personality test. So that doesn't work.


One first has to have a system willing to punish the corrupt. China probably needs non-corrupt prosecutors most of all.

Wolf-Dog said at December 22, 2012 2:38 PM:

Some tests, such as the MMPI, are full of very complex combinations of cross-referenced questions designed to see if the candidate is intentionally conceal his true nature.

It is true that the questions in the tests can be intercepted ahead of time by hired agents of corrupt people, and a corresponding strategy can be devised, but this can happen only if there is plenty of time to rehearse for a known set of questions.

But if the questions are not known by the candidate, it is extremely difficult to fool the test.

In any case, brain scan versions of these personality tests can be devised. It would be impossible to fool such a test, if the test is taken under sedation.

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