“Political decentralization and policy experimentation”

Since 1932, when Justice Louis Brandeis remarked that in a federal system states can serve as “laboratories” of democracy, political decentralization has been thought to stimulate policy experimentation. We reexamine the political economy behind this belief, using a simple model of voting in centralized and decentralized democracies. We find the electoral logic suggests the opposite … Continue reading “Political decentralization and policy experimentation”

Is government decentralization the right answer to differences across regions?

That’s the main question being asked by Federico Boffa, Amedeo Piolatto, and Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto, all economists. I cruised through the whole paper (pdf) and have some superficial thoughts. One snippet: Western California is more liberal, even among Republican voters and politicians; Eastern California considerably more conservative […] At a first glance, such a political divide might suggest that a … Continue reading Is government decentralization the right answer to differences across regions?

From the Footnotes: Ignorance of Islam and of the Decentralization of Power

There are widespread calls for an Islamic reformation such as Christianity experienced in the sixteenth century, but the Reformation cleaved Christianity into two major traditions and many splintered sects; each grew independently of the others, eroding any hope of a Christian center that could rein in extremes. After its early division into Sunni and Shi’a, … Continue reading From the Footnotes: Ignorance of Islam and of the Decentralization of Power

Artunç paper on legal decentralization and the Ottoman Empire

Awhile back Tyler Cowen linked to this paper (pdf) by Cihan Artunç on legal pluralism in the Ottoman Empire, and I found it to be really interesting. Here is the abstract, followed by some comments from yours truly: Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, non-Muslim Ottomans paid large sums to acquire access to European law. These protégés came … Continue reading Artunç paper on legal decentralization and the Ottoman Empire

What’s up with decentralization (“Administrative Unit Proliferation”) in Uganda these days?

I just came across a fascinating new article on decentralization by two political scientists. Here is the abstract: Numerous developing countries have substantially increased their number of sub-national administrative units in recent years. The literature on this phenomenon is, nonetheless, small and suffers from several theoretical and methodological shortcomings; in particular, a unit of analysis … Continue reading What’s up with decentralization (“Administrative Unit Proliferation”) in Uganda these days?

Property Rights in Africa: More Decentralization Please

From the economist Camilla Toulmin: While land registration is often proposed as a means of resolving disputes, the introduction of central registration systems may actually exacerbate them. Elite groups may seek to assert claims over land which was not theirs under customary law, leaving local people to find that the land they thought was theirs has been registered to someone else. … Continue reading Property Rights in Africa: More Decentralization Please

Secession, Small States, and Decentralization: A Rejoinder to Dr. Ayittey

Dr Ayittey has kindly responded to my rebuttal. You can’t mix secession with decentralization of power; oranges and apples. Your statements that “Smaller states would be much better for Africa than the large ones in place” and “The more “Little Djiboutis” there are, the better” are ridiculous. At a time when small countries are coming … Continue reading Secession, Small States, and Decentralization: A Rejoinder to Dr. Ayittey

“Polycentric Sovereignty: The Medieval Constitution, Governance Quality, and the Wealth of Nations”

It is widely accepted that good institutions caused the massive increase in living standards enjoyed by ordinary people over the past two hundred years. But what caused good institutions? Scholars once pointed to the polycentric governance structures of medieval Europe, but this explanation has been replaced by arguments favoring state capacity. Here we revitalize the … Continue reading “Polycentric Sovereignty: The Medieval Constitution, Governance Quality, and the Wealth of Nations”

Nightcap

Why are the police in charge of road safety? Alex Tabarrok, MR Is decentralization overrated? Jason Sorens, Pileus Can corruption be good for growth? Brank Milanovic, globalinequality What is the relationship between urban change and the ship of Theseus? Nick Nielsen, Grand Strategy Annex PS: I’m back from vacation. Hope y’all enjoyed yourselves while I … Continue reading Nightcap

Eye Candy: the Arab world’s administrative divisions

Imagine if these divisions were all states in a federal republic. Myself, I think some of them,maybe even half of them, could be combined, but if that ever happened, and the resulting combined administrative divisions of the Arab world federated, the region would be in much better shape. (The federation of Arabia would need a … Continue reading Eye Candy: the Arab world’s administrative divisions

2017: Year in Review

Well folks, another year has come and gone. 2017 was Notes On Liberty‘s busiest year yet. Traffic came from all over the place, with the most visits coming from the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and India. (In the past, India and Germany have vied for that coveted 5th place spot, but this year India … Continue reading 2017: Year in Review