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DECENTRALIZATION   Tags: decentralization  

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Policy Papers & Briefs



Ahmad, E. and G. Brosio. Does Decentralization Enhance Service Delivery and Poverty Reduction? Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2009. [Elgar]

About: This book builds upon insights on the recent developments in the intergovernmental literature first outlined in the Handbook of Fiscal Federalism. New empirical evidence from across the globe is presented: policy-oriented chapters evaluate fiscal federalism with an emphasis on the effectiveness of decentralized service delivery, the decentralization process in different parts of the world is appraised, and specially commissioned research focuses on the political economy process and the outcomes of the decentralization process.


Research Papers

Ahmad, J., et al. "Decentralization and Service Delivery," World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3603 (2005).
Summary: Dissatisfied with centralized approaches to delivering local public services, a large number of countries are decentralizing responsibility for these services to lower-level, locally elected governments. The results have been mixed. The paper provides a framework for evaluating the benefits and costs, in terms of service delivery, of different approaches to decentralization, based on relationships of accountability between different actors in the delivery chain.
Akin, J., Hutchinson, P. and Strumpf, K. “Decentralisation and Government Provision of Public Goods: The Public Health Sector in Uganda,” Journal of Development Studies 41 (2005):1417-1443.
Summary: While many developing countries have devolved health care responsibilities to local governments in recent years, no study has examined whether decentralisation actually leads to greater health sector allocative efficiency. This paper approaches this question by modeling local government budgeting decisions under decentralisation. 

Saavedra, Pablo A. “A Study of the Impact of Decentralization on Access to Service Delivery,” Public Management and Policy Dissertations, Georgia State University (2010).

Summary: This research builds further on the existing conceptual framework of the relationship between decentralization and service delivery and provides a cross-country empirical examination of the core dimensions of decentralization reform on access to two key services: health care and improved drinking water sources. The regression results provide evidence supporting positive and significant effects of fiscal, administrative, and political decentralization, individually, on the variables used to measure access to health care, and improved water provision; although the size and robustness of such effects varies for each dimension of decentralization in relation to each service examined. The results obtained in this study suggest that there is an additional (or ―extra‖) positive effect coming from the interaction of two decentralization dimensions on access to health care and water services (that is, a mutually-reinforcing effect additional to the individual effect of each dimension of decentralization).
World Bank, “Decentralization and Governance: Does Decentralization Improve Public Service Delivery?” PREMNotes 55 (2001).
Summary: Decentralization holds a lot of promise, but whether it improves public service delivery depends on the institutional arrangements governing its implementation. Several conditions must be met before the full benefits of decentralization can be reaped. First, for decentralization to increase allocative and productive efficiency, local governments need to have the authority to respond to local demand as well as adequate mechanisms for accountability. Because granting authority without accountability can lead to corruption and lower productive efficiency, decentralization needs to be accompanied by reforms that increase the transparency and accountability of local government. Second, functions need to be devolved to a low enough level of government for allocative efficiency to increase as a result of decentralization. Low-level governments are likely to be aware of local preferences and, if able to do so, are likely to adjust service delivery accordingly. Third, citizens should have channels to communicate their preferences and get their voices heard in local governments. But the existence of such channels is not enough. To effectively influence public policies and oversee local governments, citizens need to have information about government policies and activities.

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