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Decentralized Provision of Public Infrastructure and Corruption

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  • Anwar Shah

    (Director of the Centre for Public Economics, Chengdu/Wenjiang, China and advisor/consultant to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank)

Abstract

During the past three decades, a large number of countries have introduced reforms to decentralize public decision making. Such reforms have proved controversial. Critics of these reforms argue that decentralized provision of infrastructure enhances vulnerability to corruption. Proponents of these reforms counter that corruption arises from lack of people empowerment and decentralization by bringing decision making closer to people shines sunlight on government operations and empowers people to hold government to account and thereby offers potential for combating corruption in the long run. They further state that decentralized provision of infrastructure holds a great promise in upgrading infrastructure to underserviced especially rural areas with local self-government. In theory such decentralization is also expected to improve integrity of such operations especially in the event of local financing. These debates, nevertheless, remain unsettled as empirical evidence on the impact of decentralization on infrastructure provision is scant or non-existent. Empirical work is hampered by a lack of reliable data on the incidence of corruption. This paper presents conceptual underpinnings of the impact of decentralized provision of infrastructure on the incidence of corruption and synthesizes scant available empirical evidence to make a case for further empirical research to document the real world experiences to update our current state of knowledge on this subject. Much work lies ahead to limit our wide zone of ignorance in this area.

Suggested Citation

  • Anwar Shah, 2014. "Decentralized Provision of Public Infrastructure and Corruption," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1418, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:ays:ispwps:paper1418
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    File URL: http://icepp.gsu.edu/files/2015/03/ispwp1418.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. G. Gulsun Arikan, 2004. "Fiscal Decentralization: A Remedy for Corruption?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 11(2), pages 175-195, March.
    2. Anwar Shah & Theresa Thompson & Heng-fu Zou, 2004. "Decentralising the public sector: The Impact of Decentralisation on Service Delivery, Corruption, Fiscal Management and Growth in Developing and Emerging Market Economies: A Synthesis of Empirical Evi," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 2(1), pages 10-14, October.
    3. Tugrul Gurgur & Anwar Shah, 2014. "Localization and corruption: panacea or pandora's box?," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 15(1), pages 109-136, May.
    4. Chand, Sheetal K. & Moene, Karl O., 1999. "Controlling Fiscal Corruption," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(7), pages 1129-1140, July.
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    8. Jing Jin & Chunli Shen & Qian Wang & Heng-fu Zou, 2012. "Decentralization in China," CEMA Working Papers 546, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
    9. Christian R. Ahlin, 2001. "Corruption: Political Determinants and Macroeconomic Effects," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0126, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    10. Seabright, Paul, 1996. "Accountability and decentralisation in government: An incomplete contracts model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 61-89, January.
    11. Banfield, Edward C, 1975. "Corruption as a Feature of Governmental Organization," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 587-605, December.
    12. Gary S. Becker, 1983. "A Theory of Competition Among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400.
    13. International Monetary Fund, 2001. "Fiscal Decentralization and Governance; A Cross-Country Analysis," IMF Working Papers 01/71, International Monetary Fund.
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