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Evaluating the effects of decentralization on educational outcomes in Spain


  • Paula Salinas

    () (Universitat de Barcelona)

  • Albert Solé-Ollé

    () (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 (non-compulsory) 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 differences-in-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 & Albert Solé-Ollé, 2009. "Evaluating the effects of decentralization on educational outcomes in Spain," Working Papers 2009/10, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  • Handle: RePEc:ieb:wpaper:2010/12/doc2009-10

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    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


    Decentralization; Policy Evaluation; Education;

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy


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