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Intertwined Federalism: Accountability Problems under Partial Decentralization

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  • Marcelin Joanis

    () (Université de Sherbrooke, GREDI and CIRANO)

Abstract

Decentralization of expenditure responsibilities from central to local governments is generally thought to increase overall government accountability by bringing the policymaking process closer to citizens. In practice, decentralization reforms tend to be partial in nature, leading to the coexistence of multiple tiers of government in public good provision. Electoral accountability in such a context presents voters with the complex task of assessing the respective role of each level of government in the policy outcomes that they observe. This paper analyses the effects of such partial decentralization on accountability using a two-period political agency model, in which two levels of government are involved in public good provision and voters are imperfectly informed about each government’s contribution to the public good. The model predicts that a departure from complete centralization (or decentralization) will, in general, have ambiguous consequences for voter welfare, the benefits associated with the vertical complementarity among governments being weighed against the loss of accountability following from imperfect information and detrimental vertical interactions among levels of government.

Suggested Citation

  • Marcelin Joanis, 2008. "Intertwined Federalism: Accountability Problems under Partial Decentralization," Cahiers de recherche 08-22, Departement d'Economique de l'École de gestion à l'Université de Sherbrooke.
  • Handle: RePEc:shr:wpaper:08-22
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    File URL: http://gredi.recherche.usherbrooke.ca/wpapers/GREDI-0822.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Marcelin Joanis, 2013. "Sharing the Blame? Local Electoral Accountability and Centralized School Finance in California," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(3), pages 335-359, November.
    2. Bordignon, Massimo & Grembi, Veronica & Piazza, Santino, 2017. "Who do you blame in local finance? An analysis of municipal financing in Italy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 146-163.
    3. Cheng, Yuk-Shing & Chung, Kim-Sau, 2013. "Too many mothers-in-law?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 69-76.
    4. Mario Jametti & Marcelin Joanis, 2016. "Electoral Competition as a Determinant of Fiscal Decentralisation," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 37, pages 285-300, June.
    5. Mario Jametti & Marcelin Joanis, 2010. "Determinants of fiscal decentralization: political economy aspects," Working Papers 2010/7, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    6. Benny Geys & Jan Vermeir, 2014. "Party Cues In Elections Under Multilevel Governance: Theory And Evidence From Us States," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 1029-1058, August.
    7. Ross Hickey, 2015. "Intergovernmental transfers and re-election concerned politicians," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 331-351, November.
    8. Estache, Antonio & Garsous, Grégoire & Seroa da Motta, Ronaldo, 2016. "Shared Mandates, Moral Hazard, and Political (Mis)alignment in a Decentralized Economy," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 98-110.
    9. Mario Jametti & Marcelin Joanis, 2010. "Determinants of fiscal decentralization: political economy aspects," Working Papers 2010/7, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    10. Estache, Antonio & Garsous, Grégoire & Seroa da Motta, Ronaldo, 2016. "Shared Mandates, Moral Hazard, and Political (Mis)alignment in a Decentralized Economy," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 98-110.
    11. Marcelin Joanis, 2013. "Sharing the Blame? Local Electoral Accountability and Centralized School Finance in California," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(3), pages 335-359, November.
    12. Mario Jametti & Marcelin Joanis, 2020. "Elections and de facto expenditure decentralization in Canada," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 275-297, September.
    13. James Alm & Robert D. Buschman & David L. Sjoquist, 0. "Citizen "Trust" as an Explanation of State Education Funding to Local School Districts," Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(4), pages 636-661.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    decentralization; accountability; shared responsibility; federalism; vertical interactions;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government

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