Pierskalla, Jan H.; Sacks, Audrey
We study the effect of decentralization on routine violence in Indonesia. We unpack decentralization along multiple dimensions and consider the individual effects of local elections, the creation of new administrative units, fiscal transfers, and local public service delivery. We use comprehensive data from Indonesia’s National Violence Monitoring System (NVMS), a new dataset that records the incidence and impact of violence in Indonesia. We use these data to examine the relationship between the different dimensions of decentralization and different types of local violence in Indonesian districts during 2001–10. Our analyses suggest that there is a positive association between local service delivery and at least some forms of violence. We argue that the positive effect of service delivery on violence is due to newly generated distributive conflicts among local ethnic groups around the control over and access to services. By comparison, district splitting and the introduction of direct elections of district heads are negatively associated with some forms of violence. There is little evidence that fiscal transfers, in general, mitigate conflict.