Fiscal Decentralization and Local Finance in Developing Countries: Development from Below

A book by Roy Bahl and Richard Bird

As experience with decentralization has accumulated, perceptions of both the problems that often accompany decentralization and the best ways to deal with them have evolved. This book draws on experiences in developing countries to bridge the gap between the conventional textbook treatment of fiscal decentralization and the actual practice of subnational government finance. The extensive literature about the theory and practice is surveyed, and longstanding problems and new questions are addressed.

There is no simple or single way to get decentralization right. To be successful, scholars of fiscal decentralization must pay close attention to the unique political, economic, and institutional context and objectives in each country. The authors focus on the key choices that must be made in decentralizing, on how economic and political factors shape the choices that countries make, and on how, by paying more attention to the need for a more comprehensive approach and the critical connections between different components of decentralization reform, everyone involved might get more for their money.

Bahl and Bird have created a valuable resource for scholars, students, and practitioners from economics, public administration and management, planning, policy analysis, and political science, covering:


Part I Why Decentralization Matters

1. Fiscal Decentralization 101

2. Has Decentralization Worked?

Part II Decentralizing Expenditure

3. Expenditure Assignment and Management

4. Decentralizing and Financing Infrastructure

Part III Financing Local Government: The Key to the Puzzle

5. Financing Local and Regional Government

6. Taxing Land and Property

7. Intergovernmental Transfers

Part IV Summing Up

8. Financing Metropolitan Areas

9. Giving Decentralization a Chance

Roy Bahl is Professor Emeritus and former Dean of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. Richard M. Bird is Professor Emeritus, Rotman School of Management and Senior Fellow, Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, Canada.

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