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Fiscal Decentralization in Colombia: A Work (Still) in Progress


  • Richard M. Bird

    () (University of Toronto)


The degree of fiscal decentralization in Colombia is impressive. In some respects, however, Colombian decentralization has hardly changed since the process first began over 40 years ago. This review of the experience of the last few decades and the challenges now facing the country shows that there have been some clear successes as a result of decentralization. However, many problems have also arisen as a result of both perverse incentives built into the system and the failure to build up central and especially local capacity to manage a more decentralized system. Unless these critical problems are resolved, fiscal decentralization in Colombia will remain a work in progress with, at best, only partially successful outcomes whether in terms of providing public services to the country’s growing population more effectively, efficiently, and equitably or in terms of improving subnational governance in general.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard M. Bird, 2012. "Fiscal Decentralization in Colombia: A Work (Still) in Progress," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1223, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:ays:ispwps:paper1223

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. William A. Doebele & Orville F. Grimes & Johannes F. Linn, 1979. "Participation of Beneficiaries in Financing Urban Services: Valorization Charges in Bogotá, Colombia," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 55(1), pages 73-92.
    2. Roy Bahl & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez, 2013. "Sequencing Fiscal Decentralization," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(2), pages 641-687, November.
    3. Ignacio Lozano & Jorge Ramos & Hernán Rincón, 2007. "Implicaciones Fiscales y Sectoriales de la Reforma a las transferencias Territoriales en Colombia," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 002816, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
    4. Rafael Gómez R. & Mauricio Olivera & Mario A. Velasco R., 2009. "Implementing a subnational results-oriented management and budgeting system. Lessons from Medellín, Colombia," WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 009074, FEDESARROLLO.
    5. Jaime Bonet, 2006. "Desequilibrios regionales en la política de descentralización en Colombia," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO SOBRE ECONOMÍA REGIONAL Y URBANA 002293, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA - ECONOMÍA REGIONAL.
    6. Faguet, Jean-Paul & Sánchez, Fabio, 2008. "Decentralization's Effects on Educational Outcomes in Bolivia and Colombia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(7), pages 1294-1316, July.
    7. Enid Slack & Juan R. Cuadrado-Roura & José Miguel Fernández Güell & Eduardo Rojas & Richard Bird & Jeroen Klink & Christian Lefévre & Joan Subirats & Quim Brugué & Andrés Monzón & Alberto Etchegaray, 2005. "Governing the Metropolis: Principles and Cases," IDB Publications (Books), Inter-American Development Bank, number 79939 edited by Juan R. Cuadrado-Roura & José Miguel Fernández Güell & Eduardo Rojas, February.
    8. Richard M. Bird & Enid Slack (ed.), 2004. "International Handbook of Land and Property Taxation," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 3304.
    9. Agnese Sacchi, 2011. "Income inequality, regional disparities and fiscal decentralization in industrialized countries," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0142, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ramírez, Juan Mauricio & Díaz, Yadira & Bedoya, Juan Guillermo, 2017. "Property Tax Revenues and Multidimensional Poverty Reduction in Colombia: A Spatial Approach," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 406-421.
    2. Andrea Franco & Arlen Guarín & Carlos Medina & Christian M. Posso, 2017. "Políticas de País y Logros de Regiones: el Caso de la Calidad de la Educación Secundaria en Colombia," Borradores de Economia 981, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    3. Richard M. Bird, 2014. "Foreign advice and tax policy in developing countries," Chapters,in: Taxation and Development: The Weakest Link?, chapter 4, pages 103-144 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Juan Mauricio Ramírez & Juan Guillermo Bedoya & Yadira Díaz, 2014. "Convergencia social en Colombia: el rol de la geografía económica y de la descentralización," INFORMES DE INVESTIGACIÓN 012499, FEDESARROLLO.
    5. World Bank, 2014. "Towards Sustainable Peace, Poverty Eradication, and Shared Prosperity
      [Hacia la paz sostenible, la erradicación de la pobreza y la prosperidad compartida : notas de política: Colombia]
      ," World Bank Other Operational Studies 21037, The World Bank.

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