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Does decentralization matter for regional disparities? A cross-country analysis

  • Andrés Rodríguez-Pose
  • Roberto Ezcurra

This paper looks at the relationship between fiscal and political decentralization and theevolution of regional inequalities in a panel of 26 countries - 19 developed and 7 developing- for the period between 1990 and 2006. Using an instrumental variables method, it finds thatwhereas for the whole sample decentralization is completely dissociated for the evolution ofregional disparities, the results are highly contingent on the level of development, the existinglevel of territorial inequalities, and the fiscal redistributive capacity of the countries in thesample. Decentralization in high income countries has, if anything, been associated with areduction of regional inequality. In low and medium income countries, fiscal decentralizationhas been associated with a significant rise in regional disparities, which the positive effects ofpolitical decentralization have been unable to compensate. Policy preferences by subnationalgovernments for expenditure in economic affairs, education, and social protection havecontributed to this trend.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Journal of Economic Geography.

Volume (Year): 10 (2010)
Issue (Month): 5 (September)
Pages: 619-644

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jecgeo:v:10:y:2010:i:5:p:619-644
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