Handbook on Decentralization, Devolution and the State
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Handbook on Decentralization, Devolution and the State

Edited by Ignacio Lago

Taking a multidisciplinary approach to the dynamics of political and economic decentralization in contemporary regimes, this comprehensive Handbook offers a critical examination of how the decentralization of governance affects citizen well-being.
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Chapter 5: Redistribution and equality: the role of the territorial conflict dimension

Francesc Amat and Emmy Lindstam


What explains variation in redistributive efforts within and across democratic countries? We review the literature on the determinants of redistributive efforts, paying particular attention to contributions highlighting the role of income inequality, ethnic diversity, electoral systems and the territorial organization of the state. Despite notable advances in our understanding of when and why governments redistribute, we still know quite little about what explains variation in redistributive efforts across governments with similar institutions, facing similar economic conditions. In the second part of the chapter, we therefore sketch a novel theoretical argument and provide an empirical test, examining how the salience of the centre-periphery conflict dimension affects redistributive outcomes in multiparty PR systems. Drawing on data from 16 parliamentary democracies with proportional electoral systems, we show that where coalition bargaining takes place among political parties in parliament, greater legislative salience of the territorial conflict dimension is associated with a decline in public social spending.

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