IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Decentralized Governance, Constitution Formation, and Redistribution


  • Erik Wibbels


What determines the relative strength of central and regional governments? Why do centers engage in more or less geographically based economic redistribution? And why do some centers redistribute from urban to rural areas while others do the opposite? This research answers these questions with reference to decentralized politics at key constitutional moments. Much contemporary research underscores the importance of the intergovernmental balance of power – be it in taxing authority or decision making autonomy – on economic outcomes. Many features of that balance are rooted in bargains struck at the time of constitution writing. Here, I suggest that the key ingredients in such bargains are the number of conflicting geographically salient factor endowments, the distribution of inter-regional inequality, and the degree of intra-state inequality within rural and urban regions. The greater the level of factoral conflict, the more elites who engage in constitutional negotiations are likely to constrain the central government by providing for substantial regional veto authority. Higher levels of inter-regional inequality heighten demands for inter-regional redistribution. Given some level of regional demand for central redistribution, whether its net effect is in favor of urban or rural regions will depend on the coalitional implications of inequality within regions. I examine the argument in light of the U.S., Argentine, and Indian processes of constitution formation. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Suggested Citation

  • Erik Wibbels, 2005. "Decentralized Governance, Constitution Formation, and Redistribution," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 161-188, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:16:y:2005:i:2:p:161-188 DOI: 10.1007/s10602-005-2234-6

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2005. "History, Institutions, and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1190-1213, September.
    2. Engerman, Stanley L. & Sokoloff, Kenneth L., 2005. "The Evolution of Suffrage Institutions in the New World," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(04), pages 891-921, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jcecon:v:45:y:2017:i:3:p:563-581 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Albert Solé Ollé, 2010. "The Determinants of the Regional Allocation of Infrastructure Investment in Spain," Chapters,in: The Political Economy of Inter-Regional Fiscal Flows, chapter 12 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Albert Solé-Ollé, 2013. "Inter-regional redistribution through infrastructure investment: tactical or programmatic?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(1), pages 229-252, July.
    4. Santiago Lago-Peñas & Albino Prada & Alberto Vaquero, 2015. "On the size and determinants of inter-regional redistribution in European countries over the period 1995–2009," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 845-864, November.
    5. Eric Ip & Michael Law, 2011. "Decentralization, agency costs, and the new economic constitution of China," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 355-372, December.
    6. George Crowley, 2012. "Spatial dependence in constitutional constraints: the case of US states," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 134-165, June.
    7. Jonathan Rodden, 2009. "Federalism and Inter-Regional Redistribution," Working Papers 2009/3, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    8. Jonathan Rodden, 2010. "Federalism and Inter-regional Redistribution," Chapters,in: The Political Economy of Inter-Regional Fiscal Flows, chapter 8 Edward Elgar Publishing.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:16:y:2005:i:2:p:161-188. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.