China's economy, as a whole, has developed rapidly over the past 35 years, and yet its richest county is over 100 times richer in per capita terms than its poorest county. To explain this vast variation in development, David J. Bulman investigates the political foundations of local economic growth in China, focusing on the institutional and economic roles of county-level leaders and the career incentives that shape their behaviour. Through a close examination of six counties complemented by unique nation-wide data, he presents and explores two related questions: what is the role of County Party Secretaries in determining local governance and growth outcomes? And why do County Party Secretaries emphasize particular developmental priorities? Suitable for scholars of political economy, development economics, and comparative politics, this original study analyzes the relationship between political institutions, local governance, and leadership roles within Chinese government to explain the growing divergence in economic development between counties.