Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Charles Hankla - Committee Co-Chair

Second Advisor

Jason Reifler - Committee Co-Chair

Third Advisor

Jorge Martinez-Vazquez - Committee Member

Fourth Advisor

Richard N. Engstrom - Committee Member


This dissertation is an empirical study of the political benefits of decentralization. It examines the effects of decentralization on citizens’ evaluations of the political system. Despite the large number of empirical studies on the costs and benefits of decentralization, most studies focus on economic benefits (typically in terms of fiscal efficiency) and pay little attention to potential political benefits. This dissertation seeks to fill these gaps by explicitly modeling the role decentralization plays in shaping citizens’ attitudes toward a political system. Drawing on work in political behavior and decentralization, a theoretical framework is developed to explain the manner in which citizens’ attitudes are shaped by election outcomes and their post-electoral win-loss status in multi-tier government. This dissertation not only offers a general argument with which to understand how a decentralized political structure may lead to greater stability in a democratic regime, but also offers guidance to policymakers on whether decentralization should be pursued as an option for institutional reform.