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Does participatory budgeting improve decentralized public service delivery? Experimental evidence from rural Russia

Diether Beuermann () and Maria Amelina ()
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Maria Amelina: The World Bank

Economics of Governance, 2018, vol. 19, issue 4, No 3, 339-379

Abstract: Abstract We present findings of the first experimental evaluation of the participatory budgeting (PB) model carried out in rural Russia within the context of a major decentralization reform. The reform aimed (among other things) to increase citizens’ participation in budgetary decision making and to strengthen public oversight over budget implementation in rural settlements. The experiment provided randomly allocated training and technical assistance to the settlement population and local authorities helping to introduce PB practices into the budgetary cycle. We document that training alone was not successful to ensure an effective implementation of PB. By contrast, training coupled with on-the-ground technical assistance generated full implementation of the PB cycle. Overall, we find that the implementation of PB increased citizen’s engagement in public decision making and raised local tax revenue collection. However, we find larger effects when the PB model was implemented in settlements with more years of prior experience with political and administrative decentralization. Among these settlements, we find that PB not only increased citizen’s participation and tax revenue collection, but also that preferences for public services between authorities and citizens were better aligned, local administrations allocated larger fractions of public budgets to services identified as top priorities by citizens, and citizens were more satisfied with public services. Our findings highlight: (1) the importance of context specific on-the-ground technical assistance to ensure effective implementation of participatory models; and (2) the relevance of taking the historical and institutional context into account when planning and sequencing meaningful participatory decentralization reforms.

Keywords: Decentralization; Participatory budgeting; Training; Technical assistance; Russia (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H11 H41 H43 H70 P35 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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DOI: 10.1007/s10101-018-0214-3

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