Research programmes - Exchanging Data and Skills on 'Place Inequality': A UK-Brazilian Collaboration

  • Jeffery, Charlie (Principal Investigator)

Project Details

Key findings

On resource allocation:
• The range of data in Brazil considerably exceeds that available in the UK, in its range and detail, and in its accuracy and reliability.
• The techniques used to understand place inequality in Brazil have limited application to the UK, where there are many fewer units of government.
• Data about resource allocation and policy performance is a significant and ongoing problem in the UK. The UK has poor data on public spending by government and the working of territorial allocations of that spending, and very poor data on tax revenues generated in the various parts of the country.
• The lack of information about tax revenues has significantly affected debates about devolution finance, and meant that debates about fiscal devolution in Scotland, Northern Ireland and (to a lesser extent) Wales have proceeded without reliable information about potential impacts on revenues and public spending.
• While there are few political tensions about generating and publicising data about state and municipal finances in Brazil, there are many concerns in the UK. Devolved governments have a number of political concerns, while HM Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs have concerns about staff resources and methodologies, and have been reluctant to consider greater transparency. There are significant implications for the comparison and evaluation of different policy decisions made by the devolved governments (and indeed by the UK government for England).
• There is relatively little scope to borrow Brazilian techniques for analysing data, but considerable scope to improve the range and quality of data collected in the UK.
On public attitudes:
• The range of data in the UK on devolved public attitudes vastly exceeds that available on the Brazilian states; CMS researchers could identify only nine surveys in the last 35 years that explored issues raised in post-devolution research in the UK; in almost all cases these surveys did not use a regional-scale sampling frame, so were unsuited to identifying differences in attitudes between sub-state political units in Brazil
• This absence of data appears surprising given the size and diversity of Brazil, and the measures taken over the last 20 years to decentralise responsibility for major public services. This absence appears to reflect a normative focus on the priority of national integration (not least through measures addressed at place inequality), and residual suspicions of sub-state governments as bastions of corruption and authoritarianism.
• The absence of data on sub-state political attitudes has inhibited informed debate about emergent tensions in Brazilian politics between wealthier/high growth/highly urbanised states and conurbations, and less wealthy/lower growth/rural states and municipalities, not least because measures addressed at place inequality directly and indirectly transfer resources from the former to the latter.
• There is a tremendous opportunity to borrow UK techniques for generating and analysing data on (variations in) sub-state political attitudes; Jeffery and Arretche are currently preparing as a result an application to the Sao Paolo Research Foundation, FAPESP, which will both seek to generate new kinds of data, but also open up a conceptual debate that challenges normative presumptions around the virtues of national integration and the vices of sub-state governments.
Effective start/end date1/04/1031/03/11


  • ESRC: £69,598.00