Political Capture Of Decentralization: Vote-Buying Through Grants-Financed Local Jurisdictions

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Executive Summary

A recent trend in decentralization in several large and diverse countries is the creation of local jurisdictions below the regional level - municipalities, towns, and villages - whose spending is almost exclusively financed by grants from both regional and national governments. This paper argues that such grants-financed decentralization enables politicians to target benefits to pivotal voters and organized interest groups in exchange for political support. Decentralization, in this model, is subject to political capture, facilitating vote-buying, patronage, or pork-barrel projects, at the expense of effective provision of broad public goods.

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