14th journées Louis-André Gérard-Varet

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Preferences over Decentralisation: A Quasi-Natural Experiment in Switzerland
Sarah Fleche

Last modified: 2015-03-15


This paper uses quasi-experimental variations from local centralisation reforms in Switzerland to analyse whether a decrease in municipal autonomy has an effect on residents' self-reported wellbeing. I find that people expose to a local centralisation reform experience a decrease in life satisfaction as would a 25 % drop in individual annual income. This large negative effect is mainly driven by lower abiliity of residents to engage in the political process, whereas satisfaction with local public service delivery remains the same. The results also show that the impact of centralisation reforms decreases over time and fully disappears after three years - suggesting people's remarkable capacity to "adapt" to such institutional changes.


Decentralisation, Life Satisfaction, Public Goods, Local Institutions