Decentralization and Local Governance in Developing Countries

Decentralization and Local Governance in Developing Countries

A Comparative Perspective

Edited by Pranab Bardhan and Dilip Mookherjee





Over the past three decades the developing world has seen increasing devolution of political and economic power to local governments. Decentralization is considered an important element of participatory democracy and, along with privatization and deregulation, represents a substantial reduction in the authority of national governments over economic policy. The contributors to Decentralization and Local Governance in Developing Countries examine this institutional transformation from comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives, offering detailed case studies of decentralization in eight countries: Bolivia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa, and Uganda.

Some of these countries witnessed an unprecedented "big bang" shift toward comprehensive political and economic decentralization: Bolivia in 1995 and Indonesia after the fall of Suharto in 1998. Brazil and India decentralized in an uneven and more gradual manner. In some other countries (such as Pakistan), devolution represented an instrument for consolidation of power of a nondemocratic national government. In China, local governments were granted much economic but little political power. South Africa made the transition from the undemocratic decentralization of apartheid to decentralization under a democratic constitution. The studies provide a comparative perspective on the political and economic context within which decentralization took place, and how this shaped its design and possible impact.

ContributorsOmar Azfar, Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Pranab Bardhan, Shubham Chaudhuri, Ali Cheema, Jean-Paul Faguet, Bert Hofman, Kai Kaiser, Philip E. Keefer, Asim Ijaz Khwaja, Justin Yifu Lin, Mingxing Liu, Jeffrey Livingston, Patrick Meagher, Dilip Mookherjee, Ambar Narayan, Adnan Qadir, Ran Tao, Tara Vishwanath, Martin Wittenberg


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262026000 374 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 18 illus.


$45.00 X ISBN: 9780262524544 374 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 18 illus.


Pranab Bardhan

Pranab Bardhan is Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Scarcity, Conflicts, and Cooperation (MIT Press, 2004) and coeditor (with Christopher Udry) of Readings in Development Microeconomics, Volumes I and II (MIT Press, 2000).

Dilip Mookherjee

Dilip Mookherjee is Professor of Economics at Boston University. He is the author most recently of The Crisis in Government Accountability: Governance Reforms and Indian Economic Performance.


  • This book is an excellent addition to the literature on decentralisation...readers will find the book both interesting and easy reading because of its clear and informative presentation.

    Abdurohman Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies


  • Although Bardhan and Mookherjee are economists, they understand that decentralization is fundamentally a political and social transformation. Their volume begins to challenge artificial disciplinary boundaries that have long impeded better conceptual and empirical analysis of decentralization in developing countries.

    Paul Smoke

    Associate Professor and Director of International Programs, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University