Can decentralization reduce a democratic deficit? Can decentralization make public administration more efficient and act as a safeguard against corruption? What can we learn from India's experience from its extensive decentralization reforms so far?

In this book, Sten Widmalm adopts comparative and empirical approaches to examine how decentralization is connected to social capital and corruption. Using evidence from in-depth field studies in Madhya Pradesh and Kerala, and analyzing it against historical cases from around the world, he presents theoretical perspectives and policy suggestions. Widmalm's journey takes him to ancient Rome, Greece and India, as well as to the West, China, Latin America, and Russia of more recent times.



The relationship between decentralisation and corruption is receiving increased attention but there is still a dearth of well-designed studies and systematically collected empirical data on this.1 Many actors, such as aid agencies, policy makers and financial institutions, believe that decentralisation policies and the phenomenon of corruption have a major influence in one direction or the other on efforts to produce development—understood as economic growth, bureaucratic efficiency and democracy. They see corruption as indisputably a leading factor holding back development in poor countries around the world, and decentralisation has, since the 1990s in particular, been claimed to be one of the main means of preventing it.2 Policy makers and aid organisations in general agree that corruption should be fought and that decentralisation is good for ...

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