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Local Capture: Evidence from a Central Government Transfer Program in Uganda

Ritva Reinikka () and Jakob Svensson

The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2004, vol. 119, issue 2, 679-705

Abstract: According to official statistics, 20 percent of Uganda's total public expenditure was spent on education in the mid-1990s, most of it on primary education. One of the large public programs was a capitation grant to cover schools' nonwage expenditures. Using panel data from a unique survey of primary schools, we assess the extent to which the grant actually reached the intended end-user (schools). The survey data reveal that during 1991–1995, the schools, on average, received only 13 percent of the grants. Most schools received nothing. The bulk of the school grant was captured by local officials (and politicians). The data also reveal considerable variation in grants received across schools, suggesting that rather than being passive recipients of flows from the government, schools use their bargaining power to secure greater shares of funding. We find that schools in better-off communities managed to claim a higher share of their entitlements. As a result, actual education spending, in contrast to budget allocations, is regressive. Similar surveys in other African countries confirm that Uganda is not a special case.

Date: 2004
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