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Do more decentralized local governments do better? an evaluation of the 2001 decentralization reform in Colombia



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Universidad del Rosario

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In this paper I evaluate the impact of the 2001 decentralization reform in Colombia. I use data from Colombia's municipalities. I look at the effect of the 2001 reform on enrolment in pre-college schools. While all municipalities received earnmarked national transfers, withthe reform some of then now have more responsabilities to provide education (deeper decen-tralization) than others. Particulary important, the reform entitle the more decentralizedmunicipalities to sign subsidy contracts with private school. Departments (the regional gov-ernments) are entitle to sign this type of contracts for the less decentralized municipalities.Since the rule for municipalities to receive more responsabilities follows and exogenous popu-lation threshold, I can implement Regression Discontinuity Design. Enrolment is measuredthrough two variables: the number of students enroled in public schools and the number of subsidized students enroled in private schools. Results sugest that more decentralized mu-nicipalities subsidize more students in private schools. The difference is significant at all thelevels of pre-college school for the period 2004-2006. In 2005, the difference accounts for20% of enrolment in private schools and 3% of population of school age. Besides, there are not significant differences among municipalities regarding enrolment in public schools.
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Decentralization , Education reform , Quasi-experiments , Colombia
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