Decentralisation and Citizen Happiness: A Multilevel Analysis of Self-rated Happiness in Indonesia
The effect of decentralisation reform on citizen happiness in the context of a developing country remains under-investigated. We study this effect by examining the experience of Indonesia. Data comes from the Indonesian Family Life Survey 2007 which comprises face-to-face interviews with the adult population in Indonesia (Nindividuals = 29,024, Ndistricts = 262). Multilevel analysis is used to examine the effect of fiscal and political decentralisation on citizen happiness, and shows that fiscal decentralisation is significantly associated with citizen happiness, while political decentralisation is not; these are robust to the inclusion of individual and district variables related to happiness. The findings suggest that decentralisation increases the happiness of citizens through the improved capacity of districts to deliver public services, rather than through the improved opportunities of citizens to engage in direct political participation.