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Decentralization of Health and Education in Developing Countries: A Quality-Adjusted Review of the Empirical Literature

  • Anila Channa
  • Jean-Paul Faguet

We review empirical evidence on the ability of decentralization to enhance preference matching and technical efficiency in the provision of health and education in developing countries. Many influential surveys have found that the empirical evidence of decentralization's effects on service delivery is weak, incomplete and often contradictory. Our own unweighted reading of the literature concurs. But when we organize the evidence first by substantive theme, and then - crucially - by empirical quality and the credibility of its identification strategy, clear patterns emerge. Higher quality evidence indicates that decentralization increases technical efficiency across a variety of public services, from student test scores to infant mortality rates. Decentralization also improves preference matching in education, and can do so in health under certain conditions, although there is less evidence for both. We discuss individual studies in some detail. Weighting by quality is especially important when evidence informs policy-making. Firmer conclusions will require an increased focus on research design, and a deeper examination into the prerequisites and mechanisms of successful reforms.

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File URL: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/eopp/eopp38.pdf
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Paper provided by Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE in its series STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series with number 038.

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Date of creation: Jul 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cep:stieop:038
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/default.asp

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  16. F. Javier Arze del Granado & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Robert McNab, 2005. "Fiscal Decentralization and The Functional Composition of Public Expenditures," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0501, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  17. 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.
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