Decentralisation and the Poor


The patterns of decentralisation and pro-poor policy outputs in 67 countries in 1996 are studied. The wide variety of indicators of decentralisation clustered around fiscal, administrative and political dimensions, and these dimensions had independent relationships with social policy. Consistent with much of the decentralisation literature, administratively decentralised countries showed greater attention to social spending. There were two surprises. First, fiscal decentralisation showed no relationship to social policy, and second, politically decentralised countries spent less on social policy. In particular, the negative relationship associated with political decentralisation suggests a need to look deeper into the impact of political decentralisation on the ability of the poor to advance demands.


Decentralisation and the Poor. Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK, 53 pp.

Decentralisation and the Poor

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