Power to the Parents? Decentralization and Representation



Emmerich Davies, Assistant Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Date and Time

April 22, 2021 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM


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About the Event:  Decentralization and community-driven development programs have become increasingly common policies to attempt to improve the distribution of public goods across low- and middle-income countries. We study a series of reforms in the city of Delhi that decentralized the administration of discretionary school-level budgets to elected bodies of parents. We find that parents have preferences for representatives that are substantially more educated than them and discriminate against Muslims. Parents act on these preferences when given the opportunity to elect SMC members. They elect parents that are wealthier and more educated and are also of higher status. The paper provides empirical evidence to the question of under what conditions decentralization leads to elite capture. When bureaucrats have a stronger say in the selection of representatives, budgets are captured to reflect the preferences of state representatives, rather than constituents.


Emmerich DaviesAbout the Speaker:  Emmerich Davies is an Assistant Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a Faculty Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and Center for International Development, and a co-convener of the Brown-Harvard-M.I.T. Joint Seminar on South Asian Politics. He studies the political economy of education with a regional focus on South Asia. His work has been published in Comparative Political Studies and Governance. He received his Ph.D. and M.A. in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, and his B.A. in political science and economics from Stanford University.

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