The De/Centralisation Dataset Project Measures Decentralisation in Six Countries

How have federations evolved since their inception? Why do some federations become more centralized over time while others become less centralized?

The De/Centralisation Dataset (DcD) Project helps researchers answer these kinds of questions about federalism, by offering measures of policy and fiscal de/centralization in Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Switzerland, and the United States from the founding of each federation to 2010.

You can find data on policy de/centralisation across 22 sectors, from agriculture to transport, distinguishing between legislative and administrative contexts, using 7-point scales that range from 7 (exclusive control by each constituent unit) to 1 (exclusive control by the federal government). Fiscal de/centralization, meanwhile, is measured in five categories on 7-point scales based on numerical indicators or qualitative assessment, where 7 represents maximal autonomy for each constituent unit, and 1 represents minimal autonomy. 

Compared to other datasets, the DcD offers three main advantages: (1) detailed measures of legislative and administrative de/centralization for 22 public policy fields; (2) measures that capture the fiscal autonomy of the constituent units as opposed to their fiscal capacity; and (3) measures for the entire life of each federation.

The DcD is available from the De/Centralisation Dataset website and the UK Data Service.

The DcD is the product of a collaborative research project led by Dr Paolo Dardanelli (University of Kent) and Prof. John Kincaid (Lafayette College), and including Prof. Alan Fenna (Curtin University, Australia), Prof. André Kaiser (University of Cologne, Germany), Prof. André Lecours (University of Ottawa, Canada), Prof. Ajay Kumar Singh (Jamia Hamdard, India), Dr Sean Mueller (University of Berne, Switzerland) and Stephan Vogel (University of Cologne, Germany).

The conceptual, theoretical, and methodological frameworks underpinning the project and its empirical results have been published in a special issue of Publius:The Journal of Federalism, volume 49, issue 1.

The project was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and received additional support from the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Forum of Federations.