Chapter Summary

As localities continue to expand, demand for government services increases. Sprawl, and the resulting growth of metropolitan areas, has had adverse effects. Low-density developments reduce the cost effectiveness of public service delivery and can lead to racial and economic segregation. Population growth and development have resulted in an increase in the number of metropolitan areas or areas with strong economic and social ties that have consolidated their governing activities. Localities use such consolidations in an attempt to coordinate the delivery of public goods and services.

Some argue that consolidation is actually an inefficient design for government. According to the public choice model of politics, and, by extension, the Tiebout model, fragmented governments that allow for choice through competition are the most efficient means to deliver public goods. The chief assumption of the Tiebout model—a mobile and highly informed citizenry—is thought by many to be unrealistic, however, and such models lack empirical support.