Shockley, Bethany L (2014-06). Local Representation in the Context of Decentralization: Mayors, Citizens, and Local Governance in Latin America. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • Representation is a basic component of democracy and yet scientific understanding of how it works has been limited to the national level of government, especially in the developing world. This research develops and tests theories regarding two key aspects of local representation: government responsiveness and procedural inclusiveness. I examine local representation in the context of decentralization because local officials and citizens interact according to the set of decentralization policies that define the local political sphere. I find that both contextual factors and individual-level factors are important determinants of local representation. This study takes three approaches to studying the relationship between local representation and decentralization. First, it uses formal theory to explore the impact of electoral competition on local representation in the dimensions of sector and scope. Decentralization and local capacity are found to constrain the behavior of the mayor. Next, it takes an in-depth look at the representational orientations of mayors, using data collected during fieldwork in Ecuador. It predicts the emergence of attitudes of political openness and administrative responsibility using both individual-level and county-level covariates. Lastly, I consider representation from the citizen's point of view. Using data from 18 countries in Latin America and two samples of counties in Ecuador, I test the impact of participation on citizen evaluations of local government. I find that participation in general has a limited impact on citizen evaluations, with the exception of direct contact with government.

publication date

  • June 2014