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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows 2016/17 Prof. Dr. Joseph J. Capuno

Prof. Dr. Joseph J. Capuno

University of the Philippines
External Senior Fellow
January - July 2015


Joseph J. Capuno is an associate professor at the University of the Philippines School of Economics (UPSE), where he got his B.A. (cum laude), M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. He also completed a master’s degree in the University of Cambridge and did post-doctoral studies in Princeton University. His specialties are public economics, development economics and health economics.  His research on fiscal decentralization, local political economy, local and regional development, health financing and on impact evaluation have been published in edited volumes and journals such as Journal of Development Studies, Asian Journal of Political Science, Review of Urban and Regional Development Studies, Asian Economic Journal, Lex Localis-The Journal of Local Self-Government, Asian Journal of Social Science, and Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health. He was an editor and co-editor of special issues of the Philippine Review of Economics and Philippine Journal of Development. In 2009-2013 he led a research team that conducted a cluster randomized trial of a social health insurance intervention in the Philippines. In 2012, his co-authored paper won Outstanding Scientific Paper Award from the Philippine National Academy of Science and Technology. Every year since 2008, he has been awarded UPD Centennial Professorial Chair or Centennial Faculty Grant. He has been a consultant to the WB, ADB, GIZ, USAID, AusAID, Ministry of Health (Vietnam) and Department of Health (Philippines). His visit in the Freiburg Research Institute of Advanced Study coincides with his first sabbatical leave since 1997, and during which he plans to write his “second” dissertation.


Selected Publications

  • Fiscal transfers and gerrymandering under decentralization in the Philippines, Lex Localis- Journal of Local Self-Government 11(3): 409-429. DOI:10.4335/11.3.409-429(2013).  July 2013
  • Agglomeration and sub-regional disparities under decentralization: Evidence of spatial clustering of land values in the Philippines, Review of Urban and Regional Development Studies 24(3): 106-120. DOI: 10.1111/rurd.12001. November 2012
  • Incumbents and innovations under decentralization: An empirical exploration of selected local governments in the Philippines, Asian Journal of Political Science 19(1): 48-73. April 2011
  • Can information about local government performance induce civic participation? Evidence from the Philippines, (with MMS Garcia), Journal of Development Studies 46(4): 624-643. April 2010
  • Is local development good politics? Local development expenditures and the re-election of governors in the Philippines in the 1990s, (with O Solon and RV Fabella), Asian Journal of Political Science 17(3): 265-284. Dec. 2009
  • The quality of local governance and development under decentralization, in: A Balisacan and H Hill (eds.), The Dynamics of Regional Development: The Philippines in East Asia. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. 2007. pp. 204-244.


FRIAS Research Project

Political Competition, Fiscal Performance and Local Development in the Philippines

Since the 1990s, several developing Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, have adopted various political and economic reforms to deepen democratization, fiscal decentralization, or both. By widening the pool of stakeholders in the political process, it is expected that through the improved selection and effective check and balance of local government officials the chosen local policies, programs and projects will lead to robust local economic growth and inclusive development. The experiences and development outcomes in the last 25 years or so in these developing countries provide a wealth of observations to examine anew the theory and evidence linking democratization (through fiscal decentralization) and dispersed economic growth and development.

Past studies about the Philippines so far find an ambiguous relationship between political dynasties (a proxy for political competition) and local development. To help resolve this development puzzle, the research study will attempt to answer: What is the relationship between the degree of political competition and fiscal performance of local governments in the Philippines? And, how do the degree of political competition and local development affect each other? A panel dataset comprising province-level indicators of development, fiscal performance and political competition and econometric techniques will be used. To enrich the analysis, the study will also draw from the experiences of other developing countries and from insights from other disciplines. To be disseminated in a FRIAS seminar and a working paper, the findings are expected to inform policy and contribute to academic understanding of the complex development in Southeast Asia.