Fiscal Federalism and the Political Economy of (De)centralization

Course Status: 
CEU code: 
CEU credits: 
Academic year: 
Start and end dates: 
7 Jan 2008 - 28 Mar 2008
Attila Folsz
Learning Outcomes: 
Students will be introduced to major normative and positive theories of decentralization. They will learn the theoretical approaches necessary to undertake empirical analyses of multi-level governing systems. They will get acquainted with recent worldwide developments in federal or decentralized governance.
Assessment : 
• Students are required to attend classes regularly and to participate actively in course discussions. • Students are expected to formulate comments and questions about the literature. These not more than half page long comments and questions will serve as basis for seminar discussions, and are be submitted in written form before the seminars. • Students are expected to make in-class presentations on the system of decentralization in their home countries or on some literature not included in the core readings. • On the 4th, 8th and 12th week students write 3 short (40 minutes) tests that only cover the topics of the preceding weeks t. • The course ends with an in-class closed-book final essay that covers the material of the entire course. Assessment: 3 short tests: 30 % In-class final essay: 35 % Written questions and comments: 10 % In-class presentation 15 % In-class participation 10 %

The aim of this course is to acquaint students with the major problems, theories and practices of vertical division of government authority within states.

Power of nation states is challenged simultaneously by supra- and sub-national bodies in the form of integration and regionalization/federalization. This course deals with the latter issue, namely how authority is shared between national and subnational levels of government..

The course considers decentralization from two angles: The abstract normative approach of fiscal federalism discusses the various aspects of an optimal share of responsibilities, while the positive approach of political economy focuses on different trade-offs of decentralization and on how various interests and institutions deviate outcomes from a hypothetical optimum. Apart from these theoretical approaches we also analyze from a comparative perspective how actual federal arrangements actually work in the world, with a special emphasis on Central and Eastern Europe. 

This is an MA course on different forms of political change. In the first part of the semester we examine some general evolutionary forms of social change i. e. theories of modernization and development. In the second part, we shall discuss revolutions in theoretical and historical comparative perspective. Conservative, constitutional, Marxist, psychological and mobilization theories as well as structuralist approaches to the phenomenon of revolution will be analysed. Here, we also focus on the historical processes of some revolutions more empirically. Finally, in the third part of the semester, we shall cover evolutionary forms of (more narrowly understood) political change, and their social consequences. Transition and consolidation theories will be discussed and criticized, together with the ideas of democracy promotion. Students will have to follow the readings every week by reading the texts before each class.