Thursday, October 9, 2008

Two new papers on local governments in Turkey

I just wanted to take a break from the financial turmoil and have a look at two recent papers that look at different aspects of local governments.

In the first paper, Aykut Arslan assesses the performance of Turkish local e-governments with their peers in Europe. He perhaps surprisingly finds that Turkish local e-governments compare well with the EU peers, but a close inspection reveals something else might be going on: In the study period July 2005-March 2006, out of 3228 local governments, 969 had websites and out of these 969, only 63 (sixty-three) were functioning. The author uses all these 63 websites in his study, displaying a classic textbook example of selection bias:) I am totally alien to this literature, but I am supposing that studies of other countries would have tried to overcome this problem. Anyway, my disappoint of the methodology does not preclude me from admiring the dataset; I would have loved to play with the dataset for a while and look at the determinants of having a web site (functioning or not) in addition to the characteristics of the municipalities with functioning web sites.

The second paper is about decentralization: I'll let the paper speak for itself: "The authors first describe changes since the early 1980s and recent reform efforts. They then provide an empirical analysis of the effects of decentralization in Turkish provinces using cross-sectional and panel data approaches. The analysis examines whether variations in local decentralization across these provinces and across time have had a significant impact on economic development and growth in those provinces. The findings suggest a weak negative economic effect of decentralization through a number of municipalities per capita. However, the findings do not show any significant impact from the creation of new provinces by separation from the existing ones." I don't have any problems with the methodologies employed in this paper, but I am not sure their findings reflect decentralization; after all, you can have 1000 provinces, but govern from the center, without giving much power to the local authorities. I wonder what my decentralization expert friend would say to this paper.

No comments: