Who benefits? Intergovernmental transfers, subnational politics and local spending in Ecuador

Jorge Andres Mejia Acosta*, Karla Meneses

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This paper looks at the intervening role that local political elites play to translate government transfers into effective public spending. We want to know whether mayors spend IGTs to provide basic public services or infrastructure works, and whether such investments are instrumental to secure their advantage as incumbents. To test these arguments, we use a combined dataset of local public finances between 2001 and 2015 and electoral results for the 2009 and 2014 municipal elections in Ecuador. We find that mayors do respond to political incentives and make strategic spending decisions to invest on public services and visible infrastructure projects. However, we find selective spending was insufficient to secure incumbency advantage in the 2014 election. We argue that the executive intervened to block or limit the impact of spending decisions at the local level, thus creating an incumbency disadvantage for mayors. Further research is needed to explain this.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-247
Number of pages29
JournalRegional and Federal Studies
Issue number2
Early online date4 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2019


  • Ecuador
  • elections
  • Fiscal decentralization
  • inter-government transfers
  • oil revenues


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