IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Evaluating the effects of decentralization on educational outcomes in Spain


  • Paula Salinas Pena
  • Albert Sole-Olle

    (Universitat de Barcelona)


Several arguments derived from fiscal federalism theory suggest that decentralization may lead to improved levels of efficiency in the provision of public goods and services. The aim of this study is to examine this hypothesis by evaluating the effects of decentralization on educational outcomes in Spain. These are measured using a survival rate, defined as the ratio between the number of students who enrolled in upper-secondary (noncompulsory) education and the number of students enrolled in the final year of lower-secondary (compulsory) education during the previous academic year. We use a panel data set comprising the 50 provinces of Spain for the years 1978 to 2005, a period that covers the entire process of decentralization. Since education competences were devolved to the regions at different points in time, we can estimate the effects of these reforms by applying the differencesin- differences method and by using the non-decentralized autonomous regions as the comparison group. We find that decentralization in Spain had a positive impact on educational outcomes when pupils on vocational training programmes are not taken into account, and that the richer the region is the more marked the effect becomes. However, this improvement in educational outcomes is achieved at the expense of enrolment in vocational training programmes. These effects might reflect a better match between population preferences and educational policies consequent upon decentralization.

Suggested Citation

  • Paula Salinas Pena & Albert Sole-Olle, 2009. "Evaluating the effects of decentralization on educational outcomes in Spain," Working Papers in Economics 228, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.
  • Handle: RePEc:bar:bedcje:2009228

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Steven G. Rivkin & Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain, 2005. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 417-458, March.
    2. Nadir Habibi & Cindy Huang & Diego Miranda & Victoria Murillo & Gustav Ranis & Mainak Sarkar & Frances Stewart, 2001. "Decentralization in Argentina," Working Papers 825, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    3. Ben Lockwood, 2002. "Distributive Politics and the Costs of Centralization," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(2), pages 313-337.
    4. Wildasin, David E., 1997. "Externalities and bailouts : hard and soft budget constraints in intergovernmental fiscal relations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1843, The World Bank.
    5. Barankay, Iwan & Lockwood, Ben, 2007. "Decentralization and the productive efficiency of government: Evidence from Swiss cantons," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 1197-1218, June.
    6. Michela Redoano, 2010. "Does Centralization Affect the Number and Size of Lobbies?," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 12(3), pages 407-435, June.
    7. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias, 2000. "Evaluation methods for non-experimental data," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(4), pages 427-468, January.
    8. repec:spr:portec:v:1:y:2002:i:2:d:10.1007_s10258-002-0010-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias, 2009. "Alternative Approaches to Evaluation in Empirical Microeconomics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(3).
    10. Fisman, Raymond & Gatti, Roberta, 2002. "Decentralization and corruption: evidence across countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 325-345, March.
    11. Dilip Mookherjee & Pranab Bardhan, 2005. "Decentralization, Corruption And Government Accountability: An Overview," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2005-023, Boston University - Department of Economics, revised Jun 2005.
    12. Heckman, J.J. & Hotz, V.J., 1988. "Choosing Among Alternative Nonexperimental Methods For Estimating The Impact Of Social Programs: The Case Of Manpower Training," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 88-12, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
    13. Eric A. Hanushek, 2003. "The Failure of Input-Based Schooling Policies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 64-98, February.
    14. 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.
    15. John Akin & Paul Hutchinson & Koleman Strumpf, 2005. "Decentralisation and government provision of public goods: The public health sector in Uganda," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(8), pages 1417-1443.
    16. HINDRIKS, Jean & LOCKWOOD, Ben, 2004. "Centralization and political accountability," CORE Discussion Papers 2004052, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    17. Andrés Fuentes, 2009. "Raising Education Outcomes in Spain," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 666, OECD Publishing.
    18. Teresa Garcia-Milà & Therese J. McGuire, 2007. "Fiscal Decentralization in Spain: An Asymmetric Transition to Democracy," Chapters,in: Fiscal Fragmentation in Decentralized Countries, chapter 7 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    19. James Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 1998. "Characterizing Selection Bias Using Experimental Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(5), pages 1017-1098, September.
    20. Galiani, Sebastian & Gertler, Paul & Schargrodsky, Ernesto, 2008. "School decentralization: Helping the good get better, but leaving the poor behind," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 2106-2120, October.
    21. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2003. "Centralized versus decentralized provision of local public goods: a political economy approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(12), pages 2611-2637, December.
    22. Isabelle Joumard & Per Mathis Kongsrud, 2003. "Fiscal Relations across Government Levels," OECD Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2003(1), pages 155-229.
    23. Pissarides, Christopher A, 1981. "Staying-on at School in England and Wales," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 48(192), pages 345-363, November.
    24. Lockwood, Ben, 2005. "Fiscal Decentralization: A Political Economy Perspective," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 721, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    25. Shah, Anwar, 1998. "Balance, accountability, and responsiveness : lessons about decentralization," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2021, The World Bank.
    26. Sebastian Galiani & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2002. "Evaluating the Impact of School Decentralization on Educational Quality," ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, vol. 0(Spring 20), pages 275-314, January.
    27. Faguet, Jean-Paul, 2004. "Does decentralization increase government responsiveness to local needs?: Evidence from Bolivia," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 867-893, March.
    28. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 3-33, February.
    29. Dilip Mookherjee & Pranab K. Bardhan, 2000. "Capture and Governance at Local and National Levels," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 135-139, May.
    30. Seabright, Paul, 1996. "Accountability and decentralisation in government: An incomplete contracts model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 61-89, January.
    31. Teresa Garcia-Milà & Therese J. McGuire, 2007. "Fiscal Decentralization in Spain: An Asymmetric Transition to Democracy," Chapters,in: Fiscal Fragmentation in Decentralized Countries, chapter 7 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    32. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-1177, September.
    33. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule to Estimate the Effect of Class Size on Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575.
    34. Anderson, T. W. & Hsiao, Cheng, 1982. "Formulation and estimation of dynamic models using panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 47-82, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Agnieszka Kopańska, 2016. "Partial decentralization and its influence on local governments’ spending policy. An analysis of spending for teachers and other resources needed for schools," Working Papers 2016-38, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H43 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Project Evaluation; Social Discount Rate
    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bar:bedcje:2009228. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Espai de Recerca en Economia). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.