Does Decentralization Improve Perceptions of Accountability? Attitudinal Evidence from Colombia


  • Kim Yi Dionne, Tulia Falleti, Kim Q. Hill, Marisa Kellam, Paul Kellstedt, and Michelle Taylor-Robinson as well as the journal's anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments on this article. Previous versions were presented at the (2011) annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association and the (2011) annual meeting of the Public Choice Society, where we also received helpful comments and suggestions. The staff at LAPOP and especially Juan Carlos Rodríguez Raga provided useful information about the LAPOP data. We are also grateful to Leopoldo Fergusson for help in obtaining the fiscal decentralization data. All errors and omissions are nonetheless our own. All data and replication files can be found at


Decentralization is argued to create incentives for local and regional politicians to be more responsive and accountable to their constituents, but few studies have directly tested this claim. We use survey data from Colombia to examine individual-level evaluations of the degree to which decentralization prompts citizens to view department government as more accountable. We estimate the effect of administrative, fiscal, and political decentralization, controlling for participation, political knowledge, confidence in government, education, and income on perceptions of accountability. Our results indicate that administrative and fiscal decentralization improve perceptions of accountability, while political decentralization does not.