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Decentralizing Anti-Poverty Program Delivery in Developing Countries



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Decentralizing Anti Poverty Program Delivery in Developing Countries Pranab Bardhan Department of Economics University of California Berkeley and Dilip Mookherjee Department of Economics Boston University Abstract We study e ects on accountability in government service delivery of decentralizing administration of an antipoverty program While governments at both central and local levels are vulnerable to anti poor policy biases owing to political capture centralized delivery systems are additionally prone to bureaucratic corruption owing to problems in monitoring bureaucratic performance Decentralizing the delivery system promotes cost e ectiveness and improves intra regional targeting at low program scales But inter regional targeting may deteriorate as central grants to high poverty regions shrink owing to high capture of local governments by local elites in such regions Keywords bureaucracy corruption decentralization poverty alleviation targeting JEL Classi cation Nos D72 D73 H 41 H42 H77 I38 O17 Corresponding Author Dilip Mookherjee Department of Economics 270 Bay State Road Boston MA 02215 tel no 617 3534392 fax no 617 3534392 dilipm bu edu 1 1 Introduction Decentralization of authority over administration of redistribution programs to local communities has recently become widespread in the developing world These initiatives have transferred responsibility from central ministries to local governments or community representatives over procurement selection of local projects and identi cation of bene ciaries Such experiments have been introduced since the 1980s in Armenia Albania BosniaHerzegovina Brazil China El Salvador Georgia India Mexico South Africa Uganda and Uzbekistan Conning and Kevane 1999 Jimenez and Sawada 1999 Mookherjee 2001 and World Bank 2000 Other countries still characterized by traditional top down delivery systems are currently contemplating adopting similar reforms The principal aim of these reforms has been to enhance accountability in the



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