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The impact of decentralization on large scale irrigation: Evidence from the Philippines

Eduardo K. Araral, Jr.
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore;

ABSTRACT: Decentralization has often been prescribed as an institutional panacea for a wide range of problems facing developing countries. This study investigates the impacts of decentralization on the ability of individuals to solve collective action problems in a large-scale common pool resource. Using econometric analyses of a data set from the largest (83,000 hectares [ha]) irrigation system in the Philippines, the study finds that decentralized subsystems are more likely to solve collective action problems such as free-riding, conflict resolution and rule enforcement. These findings are consistent with the theoretical and empirical literature but they highlight the importance of credible enforcement. These preliminary findings offer insights for the design of institutions for collective action in situations of large-scale collective action.