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Decentralization and redistribution : irrigation reform in Pakistan's Indus Basin (English)

Does decentralizing the allocation of public resources reduce rent-seeking and improve equity? This paper studies a governance reform in Pakistan’s vast Indus Basin irrigation system. Using canal discharge measurements across all of Punjab province, the analysis finds that water theft increased on channels taken over by local farmer organizations compared with channels that remained bureaucratically managed, leading to substantial wealth redistribution. The increase in water theft was greater along channels with larger landowners situated upstream. These findings are consistent with a model in which decentralization accentuates the political power of local elites by shifting the arena in which water rights are contested.


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    Jacoby,Hanan G., Mansuri,Ghazala, Fatima,Freeha

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    Working Paper (Numbered Series)

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    South Asia,

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    Decentralization and redistribution : irrigation reform in Pakistan's Indus Basin

  • Keywords

    Poverty and Equity; impact of irrigation; allocation of water; water theft; canal water; public service delivery; canal irrigation systems; irrigation department; irrigation and drainage; water user’s association; amount of water; cambridge university press; central government transfer; public irrigation system; main canal level; canal head; distribution of land; redistribution of wealth; small-scale irrigation system; large irrigation system; lack of accountability; global financial crisis; vulnerability to poverty; Upward Economic Mobility; operation and management; political power; Land Ownership; irrigation reform; farm household; Water Allocation; bureaucratic hierarchy; census household; standard deviation; cultivated area; standard error; farmer organization; local elite; marginal effect; water entitlement; regression model; matching strategy; legal action; irrigation channel; equitable allocation; water availability; income inequality; descriptive statistic; wealth inequality; land inequality; management committee; canal system; cultural change; decentralized structure; irrigation water; daily discharge; wealth redistribution; vertical line; water shortfall; empirical analysis; water right; bureaucratic control; open access; net surplus; governance reform; political institution; political decentralization; surface irrigation; main canals; panel data; social cost; theoretical model; development policy; property right; canal bank; canal maintenance; agricultural household; Durable goods; colonial rule; media attention; empirical findings; Public Utilities; simple model; asymmetric information; political process; world development; experimental study; empirical result; managing risk; groundwater pumping; water distribution; local politician; partial derivative; consumption datum; provincial authority; female labor; water level; legal entitlement; welfare measurement; surface water; uniform rule; household level; local control; provincial irrigation; political clout; land distribution; 0 hypothesis; administrative boundary; empirical investigation; election process; piped water; international agency; state agency; empirical support; idiosyncratic component; cross-country analyses; census data; decentralization model; causal impact; small sample; water trading; volumetric price; land data; aquifer recharge; soil fertility; measurement error; rainfed area; local farmer; ownership transfer; rotation system; land sale; irrigation pricing; restricted model; water institution; decentralized system; equilibrium rent; spatial correlation; public resource; public economics; channel maintenance; natural experiment; decentralization increase; high bribe; marginal incentive; political support; development grants; poor household; econometric analysis; deadweight loss; economic institution; institutional change; positive marginal; Economic Inequality; demand schedule; Water Management; marginal product; local common; empirical work; longitudinal data; landless household; Poverty Measurement; educational achievement; canal operation; public transfer; empirical implication; probability function; Higher Education; political corruption; academic achievement; median length; electoral system; previous subsection; nash equilibrium; daily operation; welfare program; bank's support; marginal value; subsidy targeting; direct democracy; agricultural production; institutional aspect



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Jacoby,Hanan G. Mansuri,Ghazala Fatima,Freeha

Decentralization and redistribution : irrigation reform in Pakistan's Indus Basin (English). Poverty and Equity Global Practice Working Paper Series,no. 139 Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.