By Rodríguez-Pose, A. and Diaz-Serrano, L., 2011


This paper analyses whether the different powers and resources at the disposal of local and regional governments across Europe deliver greater satisfaction with political institutions and lead to greater personal happiness. The analysis uses microdata from the four available waves of the European social survey (2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008), including more than 160,000 observations of individuals living in 29 European countries. Our results reveal that political and fiscal decentralization have a positive and significant effect on individuals’ overall happiness. Fiscal decentralization also exerts a significant effect on the level of satisfaction with political and economic institutions and with the education and health systems, whereas the effect of political decentralization on these variables is more limited. The results show that citizens seem to be happier with the actual capacity of their local governments to deliver than with the general principle that they can have a say on their daily politics and policies.

By Rodríguez-Pose, A., 2008


This paper looks at the impact of decentralization on the potential for local and regional development, both from a theoretical perspective and using examples from Latin America. It highlights that decentralization may become a key vehicle in fostering sustainable development, but that it also has significant drawbacks that need to be addressed in order to maximize the potential returns of the transfer of powers and resources to subnational tiers of government. Given these advantages and disadvantages, the paper analyses under which circumstances can decentralization become an effective instrument for achieving sustainable development and a sustained improvement in the quality of life of individuals, especially those living in lagging regions or in regions with difficult initial circumstances. The cases of development strategies in Medellín (Colombia) and Rafaela (Argentina) illustrate how this can be achieved.

By Rodríguez-Pose, A., Pike, A., Tomaney, J., Torrisi, G. and Tselios, V., 2010


After a decade of devolution and amid uncertainties about its effects, it is timely to assess and reflect upon the evidence and enduring meaning of any ‘economic dividend’ of devolution in the UK. Taking a multi-disciplinary approach utilising institutionalist and quantitative methods, this paper seeks to discern the nature and extent of any ‘economic dividend’ through a conceptual and empirical analysis of the relationships between spatial disparities, spatial economic policy and decentralisation. Situating the UK experience within the historical context of its evolving geographical political economy, we find: i) a varied and uneven nature of the relationships between regional disparities, spatial economic policy and decentralisation that change direction during specific time periods; ii) the role of national economic growth is pivotal in explaining spatial disparities and the nature and extent of their relationship with the particular forms of spatial economic policy and decentralisation deployed; and, iii) there is limited evidence that any ‘economic dividend’ of devolution has emerged but this remains difficult to discern because its likely effects are over-ridden by the role of national economic growth in decisively shaping the pattern of spatial disparities and in determining the scope and effects of spatial economic policy and decentralisation.

By Warner, M.E. and Pratt, J.E., 2005


Decentralization reflects a global trend to increase the responsiveness of state and local governments to economic forces, but it raises the challenge of how to secure redistributive goals. Theoretically, as the equalizing impact of federal aid declines under devolution, we expect subnational state-level government policy to become more important, and geographic diversity in local governments' efforts to raise revenue to increase. In this paper we explore the impact of state fiscal centralization and intergovernmental aid on local revenue effort with the aid of Census of Governments data for county areas from 1987 for the Mid-Atlantic and East North Central region of the United States, with particular attention paid to rural counties. The 1987 period was chosen because it is the first year in which state policy trends diverged from federal decentralization trends and both state aid and state centralization increased while federal aid to localities continued to decline. Using a neural-network approach, we explore the spatially differentiated impact of state policy and find complementary responses in effort among some localities and substitution responses among others. Classification-tree analysis of this diversity suggests that decentralization and the competitive government it promotes are likely to exacerbate inequality among local governments.