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Applying a simple measure of good governance to the debate on fiscal decentralization

  • Huther, Jeff
  • Shah, Anwar

Debates about the appropriate role, policies, and institutions of the state are often hampered by the lack of a definition for good government. To provide a quantifiable measure of good government, the authors develop an index for the quality of governance for a sample of 80 countries. They apply the index to the debate on the appropriate level of fiscal decentralization. In measuring the quality of governance, the authors develop indices for the government's ability to: a) Ensure political transparency and a voice for all citizens (the citizen participation index measures political freedom and political stability). b) Provide effective public services efficiently (the government orientation index measures judicial and bureaucratic efficiency and the absence of corruption). c) Promote the health and well-being of its citizens (the social development index measures human development and equitable distribution of income). d) Create a favorable climate for stable economic growth (the economic management index measures outward orientation, independence of the central bank, and an inverted debt-to-GDP ratio). In relating the index of governance quality to degree of fiscal decentralization for the 80 countries, the authors are not surprised to find a positive relationship between fiscal decentralization and quality of governance. But the strength of the correlation is surprising.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1894.

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Date of creation: 31 Mar 1998
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1894
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  1. Boadway,Robin & Shah,Anwar, 2009. "Fiscal Federalism," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521732116.
  2. Mauro, Paolo, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712, August.
  3. Landon, Stuart, 1999. "Education costs and institutional structure," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 327-345, June.
  4. Prud'homme, Remy, 1995. "The Dangers of Decentralization," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 10(2), pages 201-20, August.
  5. Boadway, Robin & Roberts, Sandra & Shah, Anwar, 1994. "The reform of fiscal systems in developing and emerging market economies : a federalism perspective," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1259, The World Bank.
  6. Cukierman, Alex & Webb, Steven B & Neyapti, Bilin, 1992. "Measuring the Independence of Central Banks and Its Effect on Policy Outcomes," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 6(3), pages 353-98, September.
  7. Bomfim, Antulio & Shah, Anwar, 1994. "Macroeconomic management and the division of powers in Brazil: Perspectives for the 1990s," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 535-542, April.
  8. Deininger, K & Squire, L, 1996. "Measuring Income Inequality : A New Data-Base," Papers 537, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
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