Self-rule Index for Local Authorities (Release 1.0)
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Local autonomy is a highly valued feature of good governance. The continuous attempts of many European countries to strengthen the autonomy of local government show the importance given to decentralisation and far-reaching competences at the lowest units of a state. Measuring and comparing local autonomy, however, has proven to be a difficult task. Not only are there diverging ideas about the core elements of local autonomy, there are also considerable difficulties to apply specific concepts to different countries. This project1 suggests a comprehensive methodology to measure local autonomy. It analyses 39 European countries and reports changes between 1990 and 2014. A network of experts on local government assessed the autonomy of local government of their respective countries on the basis of a common code book. The eleven variables measured are located on seven dimensions and can be combined to a “Local Autonomy Index” (LAI). The data show an increase of local autonomy between 1990 and 2005, especially in the new Central and Eastern European countries. Countries with a particularly high degree of local autonomy are Switzerland, the Nordic countries, Germany and Poland.