Local Government Performance in Rural Poland: The Roles of Local Government Characteristics and Inherited Conditions

Posted: 29 Jun 2013

See all articles by Mieke E. Meurs

Mieke E. Meurs

American University - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 27, 2013


Widespread decentralization of government in East-Central Europe in the 1990s aimed at improving local outcomes. However, performance has varied significantly, even within a uniform institutional framework.

Combining publically-available municipal-level data with data from a unique 2005 survey of rural municipalities, we examine and explain variations in the performance of rural local governments in Poland over the periods 2003-2005 and 2006-2008. Rural governments face particular obstacles to good performance including lower resource bases, fewer people of working age, and less-developed infrastructure. Drawing on a growing literature on local government performance, we analyze the role of local government characteristics, European Union support, and inherited factors in three measures of performance, using an OLS analysis and a set of representative cases.

Outcomes vary significantly across municipalities but factors associated with success are not consistent across measures or over time. Still, some measures of local government skill, mayoral networking, and electoral accountability have an impact on some measures of performance.

Factors outside the control of local governments (location, infrastructure, history) are strongly related to outcomes but, again, the significant variables differ across outcome measures. For 2006-2008, EU transfers have a positive impact on own per capita revenue of municipalities, but not on other outcomes, and have little effect on the impact of other factors.

Despite the importance of history and location, the representative cases show that very good governance may overcome poor historical conditions. Still, the strong impact of history weakens the link between government actions and performance, justifying continued transfers to local governments.

Keywords: local government, transition, Poland

JEL Classification: H72, O52, P35

Suggested Citation

Meurs, Mieke E., Local Government Performance in Rural Poland: The Roles of Local Government Characteristics and Inherited Conditions (June 27, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2286220

Mieke E. Meurs (Contact Author)

American University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20016-8029
United States

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