The Architecture of Government: Rethinking Political Decentralization / Edition 1

The Architecture of Government: Rethinking Political Decentralization / Edition 1

by Daniel Treisman
     
 

Since the days of Montesquieu and Jefferson, political decentralization has been seen as a force for better government and economic performance. It is thought to bring government "closer to the people," nurture civic virtue, project liberty, exploit local information, stimulate policy innovation, and alleviate ethnic tensions. Inspired by such arguments, and… See more details below

Overview

Since the days of Montesquieu and Jefferson, political decentralization has been seen as a force for better government and economic performance. It is thought to bring government "closer to the people," nurture civic virtue, project liberty, exploit local information, stimulate policy innovation, and alleviate ethnic tensions. Inspired by such arguments, and generously funded by the major development agencies, countries across the globe have been racing to devolve power to local governments.

This book reexamines the arguments that underlie the modern faith in decentralization. Using logical analysis and formal modeling and appealing to numerous examples, it shows that most such arguments are based on vague intuitions or partial views that, do not withstand scrutiny. A review of empirical studies of decentralization finds these as inconclusive and mutually contradictory as the theories they set out to test. The book's conclusion - that one cannot generalize about when decentralizing will be beneficial and when harmful - promises to prompt a rethinking of both the theory of political decentralization and current rationales for development aid.

About the Author:
Daniel Treisman is a professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780521693820
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
07/31/2007
Series:
Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
348
Product dimensions:
5.98(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.71(d)

Table of Contents


List of Figures and Tables     xi
Preface     xiii
Glossary of Main Notation Used     xv
Introduction     1
A Quick Look Back     6
The Arguments     11
A Note on Methods: Formal Modeling     15
Overview     19
The Political Process     21
Defining Decentralization     21
Modeling Politics     27
Administrative Efficiency     53
Optimal Scale     55
Heterogeneous Tastes and Policy Differentiation     59
Costs of Organization     62
Conclusion     72
Competition Among Governments     74
Competing for Mobile Residents     75
Competing for Mobile Capital     87
Fiscal Policy and Redistribution     104
The "Common Pool"     106
The "Soft Budget Constraint"     108
Decentralizing Redistribution     131
Fiscal Coordination and Incentives     137
Vertical "Overgrazing"     139
Fiscal Decentralization and Incentives     146
Citizens and Government     156
Civic Virtue     156
Accountability     164
Modeling Retrospective Voting with Distributive Politics     184
Checks, Balances, and Freedom     193
Freedom     194
Policy Stability     201
Acquiring and Using Knowledge     209
Information     209
Policy Experimentation     222
Ethnic Conflict and Secession     236
Satisfying Limited Demands for Autonomy     238
Splitting the Prizes of Politics     242
Restraining the Central Government     243
Socializing Politicians     244
Stimulating Growth of Small Ethnic Parties     244
Conclusion     245
Data to the Rescue?     247
The Quality of Government     251
Economic Performance     258
Ethnic Conflict     262
Democracy     264
Stable Policies     267
Conclusion     268
Conclusion: Rethinking Decentralization     270
Possible Objections     275
Explaining Decentralization's Appeal     283
A New Agenda?     289
References     295
Index     321

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