Decentralization and Access to Social Services in Colombia

32 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2009

See all articles by Jean-Paul Faguet

Jean-Paul Faguet

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP)

Fabio Sánchez

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 25, 2009

Abstract

A central claim in favor of decentralization is that it will improve access to public services, but few studies examine this question empirically. This paper explores the effects of decentralization on access to health and education in Colombia. We benefit from an original database that includes over 95% of Colombian municipalities. Our results 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. Our theoretical findings imply that local governments with better information about local preferences will concentrate their resources in the areas their voters care about most. The combination of empirical and theoretical results implies that decentralization provides local officials with the information and incentives they need to allocate resources in a manner responsive to voters’ needs, and improve the quality of expenditures so as to maximize their impact. The end result is greater usage of local services by citizens.

Keywords: decentralization, education, health, public investment, Colombia, local government

JEL Classification: H41, H75, H77, 01

Suggested Citation

Faguet, Jean-Paul and Sánchez Torres, Fabio, Decentralization and Access to Social Services in Colombia (February 25, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1485839 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1485839

Jean-Paul Faguet (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
+44 207 955 6435 (Phone)
+44 207 955 6844 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.lse.ac.uk/Depts/destin/faguetjp.html

Fabio Sánchez Torres

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia - Department of Economics ( email )

Carrera 1a No. 18A-10
Santafe de Bogota, AA4976
Colombia
+57 1 332 4495 (Phone)
+57 1 332 4492 (Fax)

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