“The Comparative Politics of Service Delivery in the Developing Countries,” in The Oxford Handbook of Politics of Development

Author(s): Evan Lieberman 

Status/Format: Published

Date: 2018

Publication Type: Book Chapter

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Editor(s): Carol Lancaster, Nicolas van de Walle


This article focuses on the comparative politics of service delivery in developing countries from 1990 to mid-2011. It first reviews the theoretical arguments and empirical evidence related to the provision of basic public services such as education, water, electricity, and health care before turning to the determinants of service provision. The link between accountability and the quality of service provision is emphasized. The article also considers factors that account for variation in service provision, including democracy versus autocracy, elections, political competition, and ethnicity. It shows that countries governed by democratic regimes tend to spend more and to provide more basic services than their autocratic counterparts and that decentralization improves the quality of services provided to citizens.