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Abstract

Vertical decentralization, either at the deconcentration, delegation or, more rarely, the devolution level, has been instituted in most countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. It usually has the effect of increasing the quantity as well as the quality, in terms of health and education, of public goods. More neglected in the literature is the issue of horizontal decentralization, shifting the decision-making power from the central ministry of finance to the ministries of education and health, as well as strengthening the legislative and judicial branches of government. We examine the relationship between horizontal decentralization with its important ethnic dimension and vertical decentralization. Local governments are accountable to the center under vertical and to democratic forces and civil society under horizontal decentralization. Smaller local units are more likely to be more homogeneous ethnically, leading to a larger quantity and higher quality of public goods.

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