A Research Agenda for Regional and Local Government
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A Research Agenda for Regional and Local Government

Edited by Mark Callanan and John Loughlin

This insightful Research Agenda takes a thematic approach to analysing reform in regional and local government, exploring central concepts such as devolution, Europeanisation and globalisation. Expert contributors address key trends in structural change and reorganisation, subnational autonomy and decentralisation, metropolitan governance, and multi-level governance.
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Chapter 2: Local and regional autonomy – indexes and trends

Nicolas Keuffer and Andreas Ladner


Since the 1980s decentralization reforms devolving competences towards sub-national government have swept Western states. To measure this dynamic, multiple indexes have been created. The aim of this chapter is to rely on fiscal decentralization data as well as the Regional Authority Index (RAI) and the Local Autonomy Index (LAI) to highlight the challenges when combining them and the trends of decentralization in Europe. While fiscal ratios are good overall indicators of decentralization, the RAI and the LAI capture more comprehensively the increasingly multi-level intergovernmental arrangements. They point to an increase of both regional and local autonomy over time but the general trends do not always coincide. Furthermore, the global financial crisis has had only repercussions on the financial capacity of local governments. The combination of the indexes, showing various patterns of intergovernmental relations, calls for the update of the institutional indicators and for a more detailed analysis of multi-level governance mechanisms.

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