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Decentralization, corruption, and political accountability in developing countries

  • Oskar Nupia


Powerful local elites are quite common in developing countries. Thus, whether decentralization reduces or not the level of corruption in the presence of these elites is a relevant issue for these economies. We motivate this paper with some empirical evidence. Using cross-country information we find that the negative average effect of decentralization on corruption documented in the literature is absent for developing countries. Then, we build an imperfect information model of corruption and political accountability to study if the influence local elites may have on the allocation of public resources can explain this outcome. We find that not only the power of the elites but also other unexpected factors matter. In particular, both the existence of regions with a relatively weak accountability sector and the design of decentralization and grants can also explain the lack of success of decentralization in combating corruption in these economies.

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Paper provided by UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE in its series DOCUMENTOS CEDE with number 004013.

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Length: 29
Date of creation: 09 Sep 2007
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Handle: RePEc:col:000089:004013
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  1. Fisman, Raymond & Gatti, Roberta, 2000. "Decentralization and corruption - evidence across countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2290, The World Bank.
  2. Pranab Bardhan, 1997. "Corruption and Development: A Review of Issues," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(3), pages 1320-1346, September.
  3. Treisman, Daniel, 2000. "The causes of corruption: a cross-national study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 399-457, June.
  4. Timothy Besley & Andrea Prat, 2006. "Handcuffs for the Grabbing Hand? Media Capture and Government Accountability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 720-736, June.
  5. Naci Mocan, 2004. "What Determines Corruption? International Evidence from Micro Data," NBER Working Papers 10460, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. Seabright, Paul, 1994. "Accountability and Decentralization in Government: An Incomplete Contracts Model," CEPR Discussion Papers 889, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. 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.
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