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Federalism and decentralization—a critical survey of frequently used indicators

  • Lorenz Blume

    ()

  • Stefan Voigt

    ()

The economic effects of federalism are unclear: some papers find that federalism has strong positive effects on a number of economically relevant variables, others find negative effects. The results often crucially hinge upon the proxies for federalism used. In this paper, we critically survey the existing indicators for both federalism and fiscal decentralization. We argue that federalism is a constitutional institution whereas decentralization is (the outcome of) a policy choice and that the two ought to be systematically distinguished because decentralization can also occur in non-federally structured states. We further argue that institutional details are very important with regard to federalism and that dummy variables usually capture only very specific aspects of the institutional details. We use factor analysis to test whether the latent variables behind the observed indicators support these assumptions. It is shown that more than two important factors result, implying that a more fine-grained differentiation beyond the distinction between federalism and decentralization might be in order. The correlations of the most important proxies for various aspects of federalism and decentralization with a number of (quasi-) exogenous variables as well as with institutional variables are usually rather modest.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10602-011-9105-0
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Constitutional Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 22 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 238-264

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Handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:22:y:2011:i:3:p:238-264
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  1. Andreas P. Kyriacoua & Oriol Roca-Sagalésb, 2010. "Fiscal and Political Decentralization and Government Quality," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1005, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  2. Fisman, Raymond & Gatti, Roberta, 2000. "Decentralization and corruption - evidence across countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2290, The World Bank.
  3. Stefan Voigt, 2009. "How (Not) to Measure Institutions," MAGKS Papers on Economics 200937, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
  4. Jan Schnellenbach & Lars Feld & Christoph schaltegger, 2007. "The Impact of Referendums on the Centralisation of Public Goods Provision: A Political Economy Approach," Working Papers 0440, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics, revised May 2007.
  5. Beck, Thorsten & Clarke, George & Groff, Alberto & Keefer, Philip & Walsh, Patrick, 2000. "New tools and new tests in comparative political economy - the database of political institutions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2283, The World Bank.
  6. Charles Blankart, 2000. "The Process of Government Centralization: A Constitutional View," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 27-39, March.
  7. Thomas Döring & Jan Schnellenbach, 2011. "A tale of two federalisms: Germany, the United States and the ubiquity of centralization," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 83-102, March.
  8. Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "The Quality of Government," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1847, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  9. Ruben Enikolopov & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2004. "Decentralization and Political Institutions," Economics Working Papers 0045, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  10. Treisman, Daniel, 2000. "The causes of corruption: a cross-national study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 399-457, June.
  11. Feld, Lars P. & Schaltegger, Christoph A. & Schnellenbach, Jan, 2008. "On government centralization and fiscal referendums," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 611-645, May.
  12. Lars P. Feld & Stefan Voigt, 2003. "Economic Growth and Judicial Independence: Cross Country Evidence Using a New Set of Indicators," CESifo Working Paper Series 906, CESifo Group Munich.
  13. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," NBER Working Papers 10568, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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