1st Edition

Negotiating Universalism in India and Latin America Fiscal Decentralization, Subnational Politics and Social Outcomes

Edited By Andres Mejia-Acosta, Louise Tillin Copyright 2021
    196 Pages
    by Routledge

    196 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book explores how vertical inter-governmental political and fiscal bargains and horizontal variation in political, social and economic conditions across regions contribute to or undermine the provision of inclusive and sustainable social policies at the subnational level in Latin America and India.

    The question of how to advance universal social rights while reducing territorial inequalities has been a central dilemma for Latin America and India. After several decades of ambitious decentralization reforms in both regions, the balance between local accountability versus centralized planning remains a theoretical and empirical problem in need of systematic exploration. The chapters in this volume incorporate both federal and decentralized unitary states, pointing to common political tensions across unitary and federal settings despite the typically greater institutionalization of regional autonomy in federal countries. The contributors examine the territorial dimension of universalism and explore, in greater and empirical detail, the causal links between fiscal transfers, social policies and outcomes, and highlight the political dynamics that shape fiscal decentralization reforms and the welfare state.

    The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of Regional & Federal Studies.

    Introduction: Negotiating universalism in India and Latin America: Fiscal decentralization, subnational politics and social outcomes

    Andres Mejia Acosta and Louise Tillin

    1. Rethinking measures of democracy and welfare state universalism: Lessons from subnational research

    Agustina Giraudy and Jennifer Pribble

    2. Federal transfers, inequality, and redistribution: Contrasting theories and empirical evidence for five Latin American cases

    Lucas I. González

    3. The centralization vs decentralization tug of war and the emerging narrative of fiscal federalism for social policy in India

    Yamini Aiyar and Avani Kapur

    4. Who benefits? Intergovernmental transfers, subnational politics and local spending in Ecuador

    Andres Mejia Acosta and Karla Meneses

    5. Extractive industries and regional development: Lessons from Peru on the limitations of revenue devolution to producing regions

    Javier Arellano-Yanguas

    6. Public policy provision from a subnational perspective: Context, institutions and spatial inequality

    Rodrigo Rodrigues-Silveira


    Andrés Mejía Acosta is Senior Lecturer at the Department of International Development, King’s College London, UK, and Associate Researcher at the Centre for the Study of Business and Economics, University of the Americas (UDLA), Ecuador.

    Louise Tillin is Reader in Politics and Director of King’s India Institute, King’s College London, UK. She is an editor of the journal Regional and Federal Studies.

    "How do emerging economies balance subnational self-rule with welfare universalism? Negotiating Universalism brings together a superb team of experts to compare the effects of decentralization on social rights, policy, and inequality across India and Latin America. This timely and socially relevant collection will be essential reading for scholars, students, and practitioners."

    Liesbet Hooghe, W.R. Kenan Professor in Political Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.


    "How do multi-level states balance sub-state autonomy with solidarity? This issue takes centre-stage in multi-level politics but remains underexplored especially for countries with middle or lower levels of development. Mejia Acosta and Tillin have brought together a team of outstanding social scientists to explore this issue across a range of Latin American states (federal and non-federal alike) and India. For scholars who are interested in how the design of democratic and multi-level institutions influence the delivery of welfare, this book is essential reading." 

    Wilfried Swenden, Professor of South Asian and Comparative Politics, University of Edinburgh, UK. 


    "This innovative book examines one of the most pressing challenges facing countries around the world today: how to universalize access to social services while simultaneously reducing inequality in the provision of these services across territory. Through rigorous empirical studies of India and Latin America, the contributors to this volume provide convincing answers to a range of critical questions, including how fiscal transfers might either increase or decrease territorial inequality, how local political elites use decentralized resources, and how territorial unevenness should inform the way we measure the welfare state itself."

    Kent Eaton, Professor of Politics, University of California Santa Cruz, USA.