Decentralisation and Poverty-Alleviation in Developing Countries: A Comparative Analysis or, is West Bengal Unique?
IDS Working Paper 130
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Advocates of decentralisation in developing countries argue that bringing government closer to the people will make it more responsive and hence more likely to develop policies and outputs which meet the needs of ordinary citizens - the majority of whom are 'the poor'. The evidence for this proposition is systematically compared across a selection of African, Asian and Latin American countries. It is concluded that responsiveness to the poor is quite a rare outcome, determined mainly by the politics of local-central relations. Positive outcomes are mainly associated with strong commitment by a national government or party to promoting the interests of the poor at local level; the paradigm case is the Indian state of West Bengal.