Decentralization and access to social services in Colombia
- 987 Downloads
Decentralization is meant to improve access to public services, but relatively few studies examine this question empirically. We explore the effects of decentralization on access to health and education in Colombia using an original database covering over 95 % of Colombian municipalities. We show that decentralization improved enrollment rates in public schools and access of the poor to public health services. In both sectors, improving access was driven by the financial contributions of local governments. Small increases in own-shares of spending led to surprisingly large increases in the access of the poor in both sectors. Our theoretical model implies that where local information dominates productive efficiency, elected local governments will provide services better tailored to local needs. Decentralizing such services should increase their use by the public. Together, theory and empirics imply that decentralization made the Colombian state more accountable. It provided local officials with the information and incentives they need to allocate resources in a manner responsive to voters’ needs and improve the impact of public expenditures.
KeywordsDecentralization Education Health Public investment Colombia Local government
JEL ClassificationH41 H75 H77 01
This paper was written while Faguet was on research sabbatical at the Center for Latin American Studies, UC Berkeley, to whom he is grateful for warm hospitality and support. The research was financed by the Corporación Andina de Fomento’s Research Papers Program, a STICERD/LSE New Researcher Award, and the British Academy. We are very grateful to Patricia Rincón, Camila Torrente and Victoria Soto for expert research assistance, and to Robin Burgess, Maitreesh Ghatak, Alain de Janvry, Asim Khwaja, Dilip Mookherjee, Daniel Ortega, Pablo Sanguinetti, Daniel Treisman, Hernan Vallejo, three anonymous reviewers, and seminar participants at STICERD and the LACEA 2008 meetings for their thoughtful suggestions. All remaining errors are ours.
- Batina, R. G., & Ihori, T. (2005). Public goods: theories and evidence. New York: Springer. Google Scholar
- Ceballos, M., & Hoyos, D. (2004). Tendencias del comportamiento electoral y descentralización en los municipios de Colombia, 1988–2000. Crisis States Programme Working Paper No. 57. London School of Economics. Google Scholar
- Devarajan, S., Khemani, S., & Shah, S. (2009). The politics of partial decentralization. In E. Ahmad & G. Brosio (Eds.), Does decentralization enhance service delivery and poverty reduction? Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Google Scholar
- Faguet, J. P. (2012). Decentralization and popular democracy: governance from below in Bolivia. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Google Scholar
- Gonçalves, S. (2013). The effects of participatory budgeting on municipal expenditures and infant mortality in Brazil. World Development. doi: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2013.01.009.
- Ladino O., W. H. (2008). Organización del estado Colombiano y formas organizativas del estado a nivel territorial. Bogotá:Escuela Nacional de Administración Pública. Google Scholar
- Oates, W. (1972). Fiscal federalism. New York: Harcourt Brace. Google Scholar
- Ostrom, E., Schroeder, L., & Wynne, S. (1993). Institutional incentives and sustainable development: infrastructure policies in perspective. Boulder: Westview Press. Google Scholar
- Republica de Colombia (2001). Ley 715 de 2001. Bogotá: Gobierno Nacional. Google Scholar
- Sánchez, F., & Diaz, A. (2007). Los efectos sociales del conflicto armado interno. In F. Sánchez (Ed.), Las cuentas de la violencia, Bogotá: Editorial Norma. Google Scholar
- Sánchez, F., & Zenteno, J. (2010). Descentralización y desempeño fiscal: el caso de Colombia. In M. del Valle & A. Galindo (Eds.), Descentralización y sostenibilidad fiscal subnacional: los casos de Colombia y Perú. Región Andina: Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo. Google Scholar
- World Bank (2004). World development report 2004: making services work for poor people. New York: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar