What do Kenyans Know About Devolution? Survey Evidence on Political Knowledge and Public Opinion

46 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2020

See all articles by Ken Ochieng' Opalo

Ken Ochieng' Opalo

Georgetown University; Brookings Institution; Center for Global Development

Date Written: June 7, 2020


Decentralization often aims to improve service delivery and accountability by bring- ing government closer to citizens and increasing citizens’ participation in self-government. For instance, Kenya’s devolved system seeks to strengthen service delivery by localizing public participation in policy and legislative processes. However, this objective assumes sufficient levels of civic competence and citizens’ ability to correctly attribute responsibility to different tiers of government. This raises an important question: What do Kenyans know about devolution and its implications for access to government services, public participation, inter-governmental division of labor, and subnational politicians’ performance? This paper answers this question using a representative survey (N = 1800). The data reveal gendered and partisan patterns of political knowledge and preferences for governmental responsibility; and significant partisan variation in support for devolution and its perceived impacts. In contextualizing these findings, the paper provides a framework for understanding inter-governmental relations and contemporary politics of devolution in Kenya.

Keywords: Devolution, Political Knowledge, Attribution, Accountability, Kenya

Suggested Citation

Opalo, Ken Ochieng', What do Kenyans Know About Devolution? Survey Evidence on Political Knowledge and Public Opinion (June 7, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3621684 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3621684

Ken Ochieng' Opalo (Contact Author)

Georgetown University ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States

Brookings Institution ( email )

1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Center for Global Development ( email )

2055 L St. NW
5th floor
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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