PhD Andreas Pehr

4b/2022 - Do Federalism and Decentralization matter? Comparative Federalism - Benchmarking and cause-effect analysis (PhD)

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  • Project duration: December 2019 - December 2022
  • Project status: ongoing
  • Funding:
    Internal funding EURAC (Project)
  • Total project budget: €124,035.00

One of the oldest research questions in federal studies is: "Does Federalism Matter?". Several arguments and academic works theorized respectively examined the impact of federalism on state performance. Those findings remain to be inconsistent and are contested to this very day. Thus, the debate on this fundamental issue is still unsettled. The research project aims to address this gap in the scholarship and analyses federal and unitarist countries along both, a social-political and an economic dimension. Using a combined approach the study applies quantitative as well as qualitive methods and embraces the objects: economy, social welfare and citizens' happiness. Thus, the paper seeks to benchmark federalism on the phenomenon whether state order has an impact on the state’s performance.

Since the 1950s, theorists of federalism stated several assumptions when it comes to the impact of federalism on state's performance. Yet, for most of these facets, according empirics finally proving these quite meaningful associations are still missing (cf. Treisman 2000, Bednar/Eskridge/Ferejohn 2001, Gerring/Thacker 2004, Voigt/Blume 2010, Uttermark 2019).

One of the most influential arguments in this respect concerns the superiority of federalism in economics. Numerous considerations suggest the advantage of a federal setting in comparsion to unitarist systems due to better information, fiscal equivalence, higher decentralization, et cetera. Similar arguements are made regarding the satisfaction of citizens towards federal governance. Since federal decision-makers are "closer" to their citizens and their problems than in unitarist orders, tailored policies and pertinent political answers are more likely. In contrary, social welfare may be less developed in federations, because the number of veto players and a potential race-to-the-bottom hinders generous social spending.

Empirical works came to divergent conclusions and to handle various shortcomings in terms of a thorough analysis. This project aims to overcome these difficulties and applies a mixed-methods approach as well as integrates new data sources. Via multivariat panel regressions and qualitative instruments the study attempts to resolve the relationship of federalism and the three before-mentioned research objects.

Elazar once said that federal theory must be validated by practical results. This is the very principle the study attempts to fulfill. It shall contribute to the broad literature with empirical evidence and deliver the "ultimate" answer to the questions raised in federal thought.

Federalism + Democracy = Happiness
Pehr A (2021)

Conference: ECPR General Conference 2021 | online | 30.8.2021 - 3.9.2021

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6a/2022: Winter School on Federalism and Governance

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