By Daniel Treisman
Because the days of Montesquieu and Jefferson, political decentralization has been visible as a strength for higher executive and monetary functionality. it truly is notion to deliver executive 'closer to the people', nurture civic advantage, shield liberty, take advantage of neighborhood details, stimulate coverage innovation, and alleviate ethnic tensions. encouraged by means of such arguments, and generously funded by way of the foremost improvement businesses, nations around the globe were racing to devolve strength to neighborhood governments. This booklet re-examines the arguments that underlie the fashionable religion in decentralization. utilizing logical research and formal modeling, and attractive to varied examples, it exhibits that almost all are in accordance with obscure intuitions or partial perspectives that don't stand up to scrutiny. A assessment of empirical reports of decentralization reveals those as inconclusive and together contradictory because the theories they got down to try.
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Additional resources for The Architecture of Government: Rethinking Political Decentralization
One type of model is a miniature replica of the world, within which “real world” phenomena can be simulated. Sometimes the easiest way to understand the causes of complex outcomes is to try to create such outcomes on a smaller scale. Paul Krugman (1995, pp. 68–73) discusses the meteorological researcher Dave Fultz, who placed a dishpan of water on a slowly rotating turntable with an electric heating element on one side. With this simple physical model of the world, Fultz was able to re-create key elements of global climate systems – from the temperature differences between the equator and the poles to the ﬂow of the jet stream and tropical cyclones.
Although I will sometimes adopt one of these extreme positions – for instance, to evaluate arguments that themselves make these assumptions – I will more generally suppose that government ofﬁcials are partially benevolent and partially 17 18 30 See, for instance, Persson and Tabellini (2000, p. 48). This is a useful although inaccurate simpliﬁcation. But it does seem reasonable to think that individuals’ marginal utility from private consumption diminishes more slowly than their marginal utility from public services.
I leave it to the reader to decide whether individual liberty is a good thing, or how important it is relative to other values. Because I conclude that decentralization 18 P1: SBT 0521872294c01 CUNY764/Treisman 0 521 87229 4 Printer: cupusbw June 7, 2007 19:32 Overview has almost no general consequences, whether the alleged consequences are good or bad is usually beside the point. I will criticize the way in which arguments about decentralization have been presented and used to motivate policy.