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How close is your government to its people ? worldwide indicators on localization and decentralization


  • Ivanyna, Maksym
  • Shah, Anwar


This paper is intended to provide an assessment of the impact of the silent revolution of the last three decades on moving governments closer to people to establish fair, accountable, incorruptible and responsive governance. To accomplish this, a unique data set is constructed for 182 countries by compiling data from a wide variety of sources to examine success toward decentralized decision making across the globe. An important feature of this data set is that, for comparative purposes, it measures government decision making at the local level rather than at the sub-national levels used in the existing literature. The data are used to rank countries on political, fiscal and administrative dimensions of decentralization and localization. These sub-indexes are aggregated and adjusted for heterogeneity to develop an overall ranking of countries on the closeness of their government to the people. The resulting rankings provide a useful explanation of the Arab Spring and other recent political movements and waves of dissatisfaction with governance around the world.

Suggested Citation

  • Ivanyna, Maksym & Shah, Anwar, 2012. "How close is your government to its people ? worldwide indicators on localization and decentralization," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6138, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6138

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anwar Shah, 2006. "Local Governance in Developing Countries," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7192, March.
    2. Fan, C. Simon & Lin, Chen & Treisman, Daniel, 2009. "Political decentralization and corruption: Evidence from around the world," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 14-34, February.
    3. Anwar Shah, 2008. "Macro Federalism and Local Finance," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6453, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Goel, Rajeev K. & Mazhar, Ummad & Nelson, Michael A. & Ram, Rati, 2017. "Different forms of decentralization and their impact on government performance: Micro-level evidence from 113 countries," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 171-183.
    2. Yener Altunbaş & John Thornton, 2017. "Why Do Countries Adopt Fiscal Rules?," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 85(1), pages 65-87, January.
    3. Andreas P. Kyriacou & Oriol Roca Sagalés, 2018. "Decentralization and governance in Europe: Evidence from different expenditure components," Working Papers. Collection A: Public economics, governance and decentralization 1802, Universidade de Vigo, GEN - Governance and Economics research Network.
    4. Li, Pei & Lu, Yi & Wang, Jin, 2016. "Does flattening government improve economic performance? Evidence from China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 18-37.
    5. David Bartolini & Agnese Sacchi & Domenico Scalera & Alberto Zazzaro, 2018. "The closer the better? Institutional distance and information blurring in a political agency model," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 146, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.

    More about this item


    National Governance; Subnational Economic Development; Parliamentary Government; Debt Markets; Public Finance Decentralization and Poverty Reduction;

    JEL classification:

    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H83 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Public Administration
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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