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Policy-Making in Multi-Level Systems: Ideology, Authority, and Education
Abstract and Figures
Most political systems consist of multiple layers. While this fact is widely acknowledged, we know surprisingly little about its implications for policy-making. Most comparative studies still focus exclusively on the national level. We posit that both 'methodological nationalism' and 'methodological subnationalism' should be avoided. We argue instead that in multilevel systems national and subnational governments jointly affect policy-making. Their respective influence is, however, conditional on the distribution of policy authority. Moreover, we identify power asymmetries, as subnational governments hardly affect policy-making in centralized systems whereas national governments shape subnational policy-making even in decentralized polities. Empirically, we study the case of education policy. Novel data on regional education spending, regional and national governments' ideology, and regional authority over education in 282 regions in 15 countries over 21 years reveals strong support for the interplay between ideology and the distribution of authority across levels. We conclude by sketching a resulting research agenda.
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