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Decentralization, Democracy and Allocation of Poverty Alleviation Programmes in Rural India


  • Katsushi S Imai

    (University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.)

  • Takahiro Sato

    (Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration (RIEB), Kobe University, Kobe, Japan.)


This article investigates the effect of the devolution of power to the village-level government on the household-level allocation of poverty alleviation programmes, namely, Integrated Rural Development Programmes (IRDP) and Rural Public Works (RPW), drawing upon National Sample Survey data and the Election Commission's election data. First, we found that a greater inequality in land holdings generally leads to less provision of the programmes. Second, the disadvantaged groups were not necessarily the primary beneficiaries. Third, our natural experiment approach confirms that decentralization negatively affected the provision of IRDP, whereas it had a positive impact on the allocation of RPW when Madhya Pradesh was compared with Bihar. It has been suggested that the power and resources were captured by the local elite after decentralization in the case of IRDP, whereas this was not the case for RPW as it involved a self-targeting mechanism and discretionary manipulation by the local elite was likely to be difficult.Cet article examine les effets d’un transfert de pouvoir vers les autorités villageoises sur l′attribution directe aux ménages de programmes d′aide à la lutte contre la pauvreté, à savoir, les Programmes de Développement Rural Intégré et les Travaux Publics Ruraux. Nous nous appuyons sur des données tirées de l′Enquête Nationale et sur celles de la Commission Électorale. Nous constatons, tout d′abord, qu′une plus grande inégalité dans la possession de terres se traduit généralement par une attribution d′aides moins importante. Deuxièmement, les groupes les plus défavorisés ne sont pas toujours les principaux bénéficiaires. Troisièmement, notre approche d′ « expérience naturelle » confirme – quand on compare le Madhya Pradesh et le Bihar – que la décentralisation a eu un effet négatif sur l′attribution de PDRI alors que son impact sur l′attribution de TPR a été positif. Il semble qu′à la suite du processus de décentralisation, les élites locales se soient appropriés le pouvoir et les ressources dans le cas des PDRI, tandis que cela n′a pas été le cas pour les TPR qui mettent en jeu des mécanismes auto-ciblés, rendant difficile la manipulation discrétionnaire par les élites locales.

Suggested Citation

  • Katsushi S Imai & Takahiro Sato, 2012. "Decentralization, Democracy and Allocation of Poverty Alleviation Programmes in Rural India," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 24(1), pages 125-143, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:eurjdr:v:24:y:2012:i:1:p:125-143

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    JEL classification:

    • C20 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - General
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • O22 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Project Analysis
    • P46 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training; Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty


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