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Title:Does decentralization work? An assessment of the causes and consequences of subnational fragmentation in Brazil
Author(s):Senters, Kelly
Director of Research:Winters, Matthew; Cheibub, José
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Winters, Matthew
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Kuklinski, James; Livny, Avital; Barberia, Lorena
Department / Program:Political Science
Discipline:Political Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Decentralization, subnational fragmentation, political participation, public goods provision, Brazil, developing countries, development
Abstract:In an effort to spur development and entrench democratization in the late-twentieth century, many developing countries decentralized various central government functions. As countries devolved power to smaller political units, some experienced subnational fragmentation - a process in which some local communities split into multiple new communities. A fledgling literature assesses both the causes and the effects of subnational fragmentation in the developing world and provides insight into the effects of the facet of decentralization that reduces the size of political units. In my dissertation, I extend the knowledge accumulated on the subject to the Brazilian case. The intense fragmentation in Brazil and the multi-stage process governing fragmentation in the country offer a unique opportunity to precisely explain the causes of and roadblocks to subnational fragmentation in Brazil and to uncover its effects on political participation in local elections and public goods provision. Using archival research conducted in the Legislative Assembly of the most municipality-dense Brazilian state, Minas Gerais, and fragmentation plebiscite results, I empirically assess the motivations underlying local leaders’ submissions of fragmentation proposals and the factors leading state legislatures and voters to subsequently approve or reject submitted proposals. I find that a combination of local grievances, state and local political alignments, and the number of municipal districts involved in fragmentation differentiate municipalities that fragment from municipalities that do not fragment. Controlling for these causes with matching, I use difference-in-difference analyses constructed with original datasets on municipality creation to assess the consequences of fragmentation for political participation and public goods provision. I learn that subnational fragmentation enhances political participation in the first post-fragmentation local elections but that this positive participatory effect is short-lived. I attribute this short-lived uptick in political participation to enduring effects of political mobilization from the subnational fragmentation process. Additionally, I find that fragmentation helps underperforming municipalities to improve the quality of services, specifically, education infrastructure that they provide to their constituents. Municipalities created as a product of fragmentation are especially benefited through the enhanced administrative attention afforded by subnational fragmentation. Jointly, I interpret my results as evidence that decentralization and small local governments can live up to some of their promises, especially in the provision of public goods.
Issue Date:2018-06-27
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Kelly Senters
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-27
Date Deposited:2018-08

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