Jurisdiction Size and Local Government Effectiveness: Assessing the Effects of Municipal Amalgamations on Performance

Jens Blom-Hansen, Kurt Houlberg, Søren Serritzlew*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

The optimal jurisdiction size has been debated since Plato and Aristotle. A large literature has studied economic and democratic scale effects, but we have almost no knowledge of the effects of jurisdiction size on the effectiveness of local services. This is due to two methodological problems. First, selection bias and reverse causality often render change in jurisdiction size an endogenous variable. Second, there is a lack of empirical indicators of effectiveness, and most studies therefore focus on spending measures. Extant research thus studies economies of scale, leaving effectiveness of scale unexamined. We address both problems in a quasi‐experimental study of public schools. Our findings from the school area indicate that jurisdiction size does not have systematic effects on effectiveness. Our analysis therefore supports recent studies of economic and democratic scale effects that indicate that the search for the optimal jurisdiction size is futile.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
Volume60
Issue1
Pages (from-to)153-174
Number of pages22
ISSN0304-4130
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

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