The De/Centralisation Dataset Project Measures Decentralisation in Six Countries

How have federations evolved since their inception? Why do some federations become more centralised over time whereas others become more decentralised?

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

Policy de/centralisation is measured in 22 fields, ranging from agriculture to transport, and two dimensions, legislative and administrative, on 7-point scales, ranging from 7 (exclusive control by each constituent unit) to 1 (exclusive control by the federal government). Fiscal de/centralization 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: (a) detailed measures of legislative and administrative de/centralization for 22 public policy fields; (b) measures that capture the fiscal autonomy of the constituent units as opposed to their fiscal capacity; and (c) 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 framework 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.