Pro-poor targeting and accountability of local governments in West Bengal
A commonly alleged pitfall of decentralization is that poverty, socio-economic inequality and lack of political competition allow local elites to capture local governments. This hypothesis is empirically examined using a longitudinal sample of 80 West Bengal villages concerning targeting of credit, agricultural input kits, employment programs and fiscal grants spanning the period 1978-98. Higher poverty, land inequality and low caste composition of the poor was associated with negligible adverse effects on targeting of private goods to the poor within villages, but with lower employment generation out of allotted funds, and significantly lower allocation of resources to the village as a whole. Political competition or literacy levels among the poor were not systematically related to targeting. [BREAD Working Paper No. 105, November 2005]
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