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Citizen Perceptions of Local Government Responsiveness in Sub-Saharan Africa


  • Bratton, Michael


This article focuses on political relationships between citizens and local government in sub-Saharan Africa, with special attention to leadership responsiveness. Cross-national survey data provide popular insights into performance. Citizens regard local councils as weak institutions with limited functions (rarely performed well) and elected councilors as largely unresponsive. Although civic activism is a corrective, people have yet to make use of tax payment as a device to hold councilors accountable. In endeavoring to improve client satisfaction, policy actors should attend as much to the procedural dimensions of local government performance as to the substance of service delivery.

Suggested Citation

  • Bratton, Michael, 2012. "Citizen Perceptions of Local Government Responsiveness in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 516-527.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:40:y:2012:i:3:p:516-527
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2011.07.003

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mustafa Kennedy Hussein, 2006. "Capacity building challenges in Malawi's local government reform programme," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(3), pages 371-383.
    2. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
    3. Bratton, Michael & Mattes, Robert, 2001. "Support for Democracy in Africa: Intrinsic or Instrumental?," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(03), pages 447-474, July.
    4. Ross, Michael L., 2004. "Does Taxation Lead to Representation?," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 34(02), pages 229-249, April.
    5. Odd-Helge Fjeldstad, 2000. "Taxation, coercion and donors. Local government tax enforcement in Tanzania," CMI Working Papers 7, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
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    Cited by:

    1. Timmons, Jeffrey F. & Garfias, Francisco, 2015. "Revealed Corruption, Taxation, and Fiscal Accountability: Evidence from Brazil," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 13-27.


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