Federalism and decentralization—a critical survey of frequently used indicators
Source: Constitutional Political Economy, Volume 22, Number 3, September 2011 , pp. 238-264(27)
Abstract:The economic effects of federalism are unclear: some papers find that federalism has strong positive effects on a number of economically relevant variables, others find negative effects. The results often crucially hinge on the proxies for federalism used. In this paper, we critically survey the existing indicators for both federalism and fiscal decentralization. We argue that federalism is a constitutional institution, whereas decentralization is the outcome of a policy choice, and that the two ought to be systematically distinguished because decentralization can also occur in nonfederally structured states. We further argue that institutional details are very important with regard to federalism and that dummy variables usually capture only very specific aspects of these institutional details. We use factor analysis to test whether the latent variables behind the observed indicators support these assumptions. More than two important factors are derived, implying that a more fine-grained differentiation beyond simply “‘federalism” and “decentralization” might be in order. The correlations of the most important proxies for various aspects of federalism and decentralization with a number of quasi-exogenous variables, as well as with institutional variables, are usually rather modest.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: Chair for Institutional and International Economics, Philipps University Marburg, Barfüßertor 2, 35032, Marburg, Germany, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 2: Institute of Law & Economics, University of Hamburg, Rothenbaumchaussee 36, 20148, Hamburg, Germany, Email: Stefan.email@example.com
Publication date: September 1, 2011