Archive for the ‘Regionalization’ Category
China’s Communist Party is good at making things grow, such as the economy and, evidently, cities. As one of its latest feats, the able cadres of Anhui province managed to, with minimal effort, make one city into three. Over night.
What used to be the single urban center of Chaohu is now three other cities, as reported by NPR. Without any consultation the Communist Party made Chaohu disappear from the face of the earth, before the very same officials made it reappear as parts of the nearby cities Hefei, Wuhu and Ma’anshan. This will supposedly be good for growth. Odd. Wouldn’t it be better to save a real city with all its established intricate networks in order to promote the metropolitan area rather than to slice it up and prohibit efficient regional strategizing, was my first thought.
But it is not quite as strange as it first seemed (though disappearing localities is still odd). Because the former city of Chaohu is a municipality that contains both a central city as well as surrounding countryside (much in the same manner that Chongqing can be referred to as the world’s biggest city, disregarding the fact that the municipality of Chongqing takes up an area almost twice the size of Switzerland where large chunks are not very metropolitan at all). Dividing Chaohu therefore means that parts of the municipality’s more rural parts are included into surrounding jurisdictions that are centered around three different central cities. And if these central cities, like the case is with Hefei, are bigger and more productive than Chaohu, it could be beneficial to be a part of Hefei rather than Chaohu.
More growth aside, since it’s not the Party’s style to ask concerned residents if they approve of changes it’s hard to complain about it not doing so this time. But would it have been too much to put up a note?
There have been many great plans to save Northern England from economic decay over the years, but Westminster is still seeking an elixir that can turn drizzle and rust into something more bankable. Lately, representatives feel that they may very well have found a new great new solution that will aid the limping North. David Cameron’s coalition government recently presented plans to invest £32 billion in a new super-train railway from London to Manchester and Leeds via Birmingham, calling it a “fast track” to prosperity by improving the connection with London and the South East and facilitating for businesses outside of Greater London to better tap into those wealthy markets.
And while The Economist, in an interesting piece, rightly points out that benefits from infrastructure lasts a long time, they also make a good case for why a similar high-speed railway may have no, or possibly even a negative effect, on “the North” (as highway signs like to call it).
Building a new high-speed line actually means that several mid-sized cities like Coventry and Stoke-on-Trent get worse connections with London since they are bypassed by the new railway, while the government cuts the number of daily departures for the old trains. If good connections with London and the South East is supposed to be as helpful to economic development as Westminster proclaims it to be, that in itself is bad news for large chunks of middle England.
Then there is also what happened in France and Spain. After that the high-speed railway between Paris-Lyon opened in 1981, and the Madrid-Seville line opened in 1992, more businesses have relocated their offices from Lyon to Paris and Seville to Madrid than the other way around. Indicating that better communications between London and the North may be a good deal for London, but more of a stray bullet than a silver bullet for struggling regions.
Why did these relocations occur? It’s possible that businesses moved from the periphery to the core for reasons that had nothing to do with railroads. Globalization has made it more beneficial for specialized service industries to be close to other specialized service industries in highly productive mega cities such as Paris. This still speaks to the strength of London versus Northern England, but at least takes the blame off high-speed rail.
Then again, it could also be that high-speed rail, by making it easier for companies in the periphery to trade with the core, made businesses in Lyon and Seville more aware of the benefits of being in the big city, and thus eventually prompted a corporate move.
Either way high-speed rail, at best, seems like an ok deal for the UK economy as a whole (since London GDP per capita is 1,7 times the national average a larger London economy compared to a larger Northern economy would mean a larger national economy) but definitely not a “fast track” to prosperity for Northern England.
“The worst thing about Beijing is that you can never trust the judicial system. Without trust, you cannot identify anything; it’s like a sandstorm … Everything is constantly changing, according to somebody else’s will, somebody else’s power.”
These are the words of the famous Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei, who recently published a piece in Newsweek about the two-faced reality of life in contemporary Beijing. In an article that is sure to enrage Chinese authorities, he is talking about the corruption and the injustice of a fickle justice system where the lives of powerless citizens are in the hands of government bureaucrats who own the law.
A lawlessness that is especially pervasive on a local level, leading to many questions about the nature of local governance in China.
In such a large and diverse republic, it is not feasible, nor advisable, that all matters of importance should be decided in the capital, where people without intimate knowledge of varying local conditions design one-size-fits-all policies that will have immensely different consequences in different parts of the nation.
Just like in the similarly enormous USA, Chinese states and municipal governments should be given room to explore a wide range of ideas and act as laboratories of policy (Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ “laboratories of democracy” will have to wait for a while, but policy is a good start) so that effective state and local governments can, not only take local conditions into consideration, but also lead by example. Innovative localities can take charge of their own destiny and allow more economic and individual freedom by, for example, implementing local migration, school, labor and birth policies. Or, more humdrum, local property rights, environmental and safety regulations, building codes etc.
Thanks to decentralization, one state or city can show the rest of a region and the country the benefits of a new approach and force others to follow if they want to stay in the development game. A classic case of efficiency-increasing jurisdictional competition á la Charles Tiebout, where companies and citizens vote with their feet and leave corrupt backwaters to seek a new life in a better governed, and more successful part of the country. At least in theory.
In a reality where China lacks accountability measures, localization is likely to take a much darker turn. After the Chinese empire collapsed in the early 20th century, the country lost decades to civil war where the breakdown of central government led to the rise of a long line of regional warlords who did whatever they pleased with the territory they controlled. It was an intense form of legal sandstorm, where no one knew whose will or whim would affect your life.
This anarchy was what the communist party fought and defeated, which is why Beijing is incredibly rattled that a China of local chiefdoms may be resurgent, and that erratic and unjust local governments will undermine the people’s faith in the party’s ability to maintain stability and growth, prompting Beijing to try such extreme measures as capital punishment in order to discourage corrupt bureaucrats from abusing their powers. But with little effect, other than that local officials become less overt in their ransacking of the public purse and use of their powers over property rights and the legal system to enrich themselves. Since they know that there is no way for the federal anti-corruption authorities in Beijing to register every act of official misconduct in such a vast nation as China where millions of people are involved in corrupt activities. The capital’s resources will only allow them to go after the big game – people who have ended up in the Corruption Hall of Fame – leaving thousands of local emperors to continue undermining the people’s trust in the “harmonious society”.
The reason that countries like the US managed to rid its state capitals and city halls of corruption, and countries like Mexico failed, was because thousands of individual citizens could go above their local authorities’ heads when they misbehaved to get help from an accountable and independent federal judiciary and law enforcement that was beyond local governments’ control. Thereby, the US didn’t need to rely on a small group of anti-corruption officials to uncover and punish every local power-plot, but utilized the force of the masses as well as a free press of muckraking journalists. Without a strong and independent federal judiciary, local government officials all over America would have had no far-reaching independent authority to fear, and Americans would have had no far-reaching independent authority to rely on when some Peckerwood Caligula of a governor, mayor, city councilman or sheriff decided to interpret the law in accordance with his or her personal interests.
And herein lays the problem for Beijing. Hu Jintao desperately wants to rein in corrupt officials in order to protect the party’s autocratic hold on power, but the only way of doing that is to create an independent judicial authority that the party can’t control. A judiciary that may be intended to singlehandedly pursue cases of corruption, but that certainly would become a refuge for a thousand and one unforeseen complaints that the party would rather deal with behind closed doors.
Which is why Chinese law is likely to remain an ever changing sandstorm and why a majority of Chinese local governments will continue to be seriously flawed.
Here is a promotional video from Detroit (that I found thanks to MLive), as part of the one year anniversary of Quicken Loans’ move downtown, that aims to convince people that living in Motown isn’t such a bad thing. PR that tries to sell something with an incredibly bad reputation by stressing how unique it is (and not uniquely bad) can be very amusing. But this video isn’t that bad, on the other hand it’s interesting to see lots of moving pictures of normal life in Detroit.
“Detroit isn’t dying, it’s being reborn”, says one of the people in the clip, and it’s true in a sense. Precisely because the situation in Detroit is so incredibly depressing it is currently doing the most out of the major Rustbelt metros to transform itself. Detroit has hit rock bottom, making everything possible.
Poverty trends in cities and suburbs follow each other. Metro Trends published some new data last week that show how neither central-cities nor suburbs are shielded from increased metropolitan poverty rates since they are all part of the same region.
Researchers like Richard Voith, H.V. Savitch, Bruce Katz and Myron Orfield, among others, have long pointed out that urban and suburban economies are interdependent. If a central city is ailing it causes a ripple effect throughout the entire metro area, and the other way around, due to shrinking agglomeration economies and declining amenities. Which is why American metros’ need more regional coordination and metropolitan policy thinking.
How a city expands is a history of land supply, consumer demand and law. This makes the subject of comparative urban expansion very interesting since there are a lot of parallels between cities in different countries, as well as equally many site specific differences that explain how growth happened and why cities can look so different despite sharing important economic and social characteristics.
Take a look at Stockholm, for example. The capital of Sweden saw a massive expansion in the wake of WWII when its population grew by 40 % over the course of two decades (from 590,000 in 1940 to 803,000 in 1960). Even though an increase of 213,000 people in the urban core doesn’t lead to many raised eyebrows in third world metropolitan areas that have coped with significantly higher growth numbers for decades, it was a lot for a city like Stockholm that had to supply a sufficient amount of modern housing and public services to all newcomers at the same time as the welfare state’s public service requirements exploded.
And it wasn’t made any easier by the fact that the city would run out of available land to build on in the third quarter of 1958. After that there would be no more space for the municipal authorities or private real estate interests to launch any large scale housing developments within the municipal limits. What would Stockholm do then? The demand for living in the capital was huge and the city needed to grow, but after a succession of incorporations of the surrounding municipalities that ended with the inclusion of Hässelby and Spånga in 1949-50 the city government had promised not to gulp up any more land from its neighbors (areas that had a lot of available land, but not enough money to embark on a massive housing construction campaign in a then heavily regulated Social Democratic Sweden that didn’t want to leave it to the private sector). With the easy solution of land expansion being out of the question, the only thing that remained was thus for Stockholm to find new creative forms of cooperation between the dominating central-city and the string of smaller localities that enclosed the capital.
Stockholm wanted to avoid what had happened in many US metropolitan areas in the Northeast and Midwest, where the urban core had been completely walled-in by hostile suburbs that wanted very little to do with their domineering city-brethren. But it was not only because of goodwill that the capital wished to maintain good relations with the surrounding areas, Stockholm also lacked the legal means to act like a municipal colonizer, in the mode of Greater London, that simply bought up land in surrounding jurisdictions since a Swedish local government, before 1959, wasn’t allowed to develop land in other local governments.
In order not to be completely locked in and loose its development appeal, Hjalmar Mehr, the leading Stockholm politician at the time, opted for a two-pronged strategy.
Firstly, Stockholm needed a kind of ambassador for the entire Stockholm Metropolitan Area – the economic entity – that could speak for not just the central-city but all of the localities that, in practice, made up Greater Stockholm (Stor-Stockholm). The primary goal was to work systematically to improve the relationship between Stockholm and its neighbors and avoid the spirit of confrontation that often characterized urban-suburban contacts elsewhere in order to facilitate long-term regional planning and focus on what was best for the metro area as a whole. By creating a metro ambassador, as well as through a series of other initiatives that aimed to improve regional cooperation by handing over the responsibility for regional issues such as transportation to the county, the Stockholm-lover Hjalmar Mehr somewhat ironically became the man that gave up more powers to the region than any other mayor before him. And it paid off.
As a concrete result of appointing a metro ambassador, all the local governments in the Greater Stockholm area managed to unite around a five year housing construction plan to better deal with the large influx of new residents. This was a win-win situation, according to the Swedish writer Björn Elmbrant in his biography of Hjalmar Mehr, since Stockholm lacked land but had lots of money while the suburbs had lots of land but no financial resources.
This strategy for metropolitan area brotherly love was also combined with a bold legal move from Stockholm’s leaders. Even though the Swedish capital had lacked London’s judicial powers, Hjalmar Mehr and others thought that it was something that they would be able to deal with in a satisfactory way once the issue would arise. Banking on a future support from the Social Democratic government, Stockholm embarked on a London-style expansion policy and started to buy land, lots of land, in the surrounding municipalities. But with one strategic difference, Mehr had seen that London’s shopping spree had led to an unwanted increase in land values, a development he wanted to avoid at all cost. Consequently, Stockholm told the public that it only purchased large swaths of land in order to secure an ample supply of green areas for the current and future urban population and that the city intended for the land to stay undeveloped.
This, of course, was not the case? At the same time as Stockholm prepared the ground for a large scale colonization of its neighbors, Mehr and others lobbied the national government to change the legislation that prevented one Swedish municipality from building properties in another municipality. An effort that resulted in a new law, titled Lex Bollmora, which gave a local government the right to develop land in another local government, if they had been invited by the latter to do so.
This was a much needed legal development that could help Stockholm expand. It was also clever in that it forced local governments to cooperate and prevented a more powerful neighbor (i.e. the central-city) from overriding its suburban surrounding.
Through a combination of regional thinking, a practical campaign for a metropolitan perspective and a daring legal gambit did Stockholm beat its growth constraints and managed to initiate its “Million program” where The Venice of the North was turned into a city-wide construction site in order to provide enough housing for all of those who left the countryside in search of a new life in the Swedish capital.
The perennial urban-revival-pessimist Joel Kotkin’s Forbes blog post about how the much-touted young flight back to the urban core isn’t happening has attracted a lot of attention.
And he is right that the numbers tell a story about how young people still prefer the suburbs (though Smart Growth America points out that he doesn’t prove what kind of suburbs) to the city once they reach family-formation age (35 to 44 years old). Across the US, this group grew 12 percent in the suburbs while it declined 22,7 percent in the urban core over the last decade. So the urban resurgence where cities manage to keep their most attractive tax-base has yet to happen.
Though everyone isn’t as pessimistic as Kotkin. Pittsburgh, for example, sees a chance to celebrate that the city often is behind the curve, since this gives Pittsburgh a chance to correct what others did wrong when it comes to keeping families in the city. Ruth Ann Dailey writes in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Pittsburgh needs to keep job growth strong and taxes low, while continuing to improve the schools through embracing competition as well as strengthening healthy neighborhoods by protecting them from blight.
In listing all of this, Dailey points out another incredibly important thing, though without underlying that it needs to change as well. That is: when you look at job creation, Pittsburgh does well as an integrated, interconnected Metropolitan Area, and not when it comes to “the city proper, with its tiny, 19th-century footprint”.
America’s metro areas must start working together, especially in places like Pittsburgh that is one of a select few metro areas that lost population during the past three decades (most of the Rustbelt cities were actually part of metropolitan areas that grew as a whole). In order to make sure that Pittsburgh remains “a city of a certain size [that] can support the carried cultural amenities like museums, major arts enterprises, fine restaurants and shops that attract enterprises and employers” as well as employees in the form of both young graduates and 35-44 year old family providers, cities and suburbs must realize that they are part of the same metropolitan regions and start cooperating to protect and improve their common metro strengths.
The Nordic countries have had longstanding agreements that allow their citizens to move freely across the High North’s borders. A form of cooperation that since has been strengthened by Denmark, Finland and Sweden’s entrance into the European Union. And nowhere has the integration process gone further than in the Öresund region – which spans the Danish capital Copenhagen and Sweden’s third largest city Malmö as well as a couple of nearby towns (mainly Lund, Helsingborg and Landskrona).
What started with a bridge that connected the two sides of the Öresund strait has since grown to a large-scale project to create a fully functional bi-national metro area with region wide infrastructure planning and a common Öresund vision that will help the entire area market itself to the world. This, aided by strong economic forces in the form of higher wages in Copenhagen and lower housing prices in Malmö, has encouraged migration and led to an impressive growth in bi-national traffic from 3,2 million vehicles in 1999 (the year the bridge was completed) to 35,6 million travelers by car, bus train or ferry in 2009. Nowadays, an estimated 13,000 people commute across the strait every single day.
Some of these commuters are not voluntary migrants, though. Due to highly restrictive Danish immigration policies that deny non-European spouses of Danish citizens the right to stay in Denmark if they are under the age of 24, or if the couple is deemed to have stronger ties to the non-Danish spouse’s country (for example if the couple met in Brazil when the Danish partner worked there, the Danish authorities think that they should stay in Brazil if they want to be together), many have been forced to move across the Öresund strait to Sweden. Giving, mainly Malmö, a steady inflow of well-educated and productive Danish migrants who buy properties and set up businesses.
But everyone won’t go to Malmö. Soon the university town of Lund – located 30 km to the north – expects to get a larger share of the migrants as well.
After that the Danish and Swedish government worked together to make sure that the huge European research facility ESS (a new institution that will attract many researchers and businesses to the Öresund region) would be located in Lund it looks like Danish intolerance will ensure that the majority of these highly educated new residents settle on the Swedish side rather than in big city Copenhagen. This, since Denmark is not only restrictive when it comes to marriages; the country also forces non-European guest researchers to pay large sums of money in order to get a work visa. Something that they wouldn’t need to do if they moved across the narrow body of water that is the Öresund strait.
What’s Copenhagen’s loss is Lund’s boom. Thanks to its isolationist neighbors’ immigration policies, Lund can expect a large inflow of the kind of human capital intensive residents that every city in the world wants to attract. Which poses useful lessens for metropolitan areas across the world. What if the federal government in the US gave states and municipalities more control over their immigration policies, like Mayor Bloomberg’s idea that anyone should be allowed to come to the US (given that they can support themselves) if they first settle in Detroit for X amount of years before they are free to move anywhere they want? Or a slightly modified form of this policy, where Detroit or Cleveland or Buffalo would allow mainly highly educated non-Americans to settle there in order to boost their low human capital levels. Then you can be sure that the Rustbelt cities will win out in the long term, while sunny Arizona’s creative pool slowly dries up in a desert of prejudice.
Just like Copenhagen was waving goodbye to its brainpower while Lund’s city leaders were bursting of optimism two weeks ago when they presented the plans of a hypermodern new borough called Brunnshög that will house any Danish émigré – or other brainy immigrant – that wants to come.
What is a city? Defining New York, Chicago or Los Angeles is easier said than done. Where the border between a dense urban industrial, cultural and political center and the outside world was clear a century ago this is no longer the case. Take any major American metro area today and there will be both a central city – the political entity of New York, Chicago or Los Angeles that once was the metropolis – but also an urban landscape of millions of people that begins wherever the city limit ends.
Once there, on the outside, you will be inside an older suburb that looks very much like a city and beyond that endless rows of single family homes, condominiums, supermarkets, malls, office parks, industries and parking lots where people live, work and shop.
The social and economic lines between city and country and city and suburb have faded and millions of people within a metropolitan area like Greater New York, Chicago or Los Angeles move in intricate patterns across jurisdictional lines on a daily basis. The historical American city has developed into an urban region that emanates from a core, like Manhattan, but where the outlying parts no longer exclusively communicate with the center, but also with each other in what the urban thinker Myron Orfield, in his book Region: planning the future of the Twin Cities, has described as “an extremely complex mosaic where jobs and housing are scattered across large areas governed (in most metros) by large numbers of local governments.”
The modern American metropolis is an integrated urban region that consists of a multitude of local governments that share a common market and depend on each other for the free flow of goods, people and ideas. While it simultaneously is divided into hundreds of political jurisdictions that are both competing with each other for residents and investments, as well as being forced to cooperate in order to guarantee the continued economic success of a region whose competitiveness they all depend on.
No matter how much an independent suburb wants to set itself apart from the central city or its suburban and exurban neighbors when it comes to taxes, schools and transportation the citizens of metropolitan areas rely on a vast array of investments in regional infrastructure and amenities (tangible and intangible benefits of a location) if the metro should function and grow. Urban centers, with their high population densities and increased social interactions demand a more vigorous collective urban service provision
The clustering of human beings in cities creates many new problems that demand solutions beyond the scope of the individuals. Every locality needs large-scale and long-term investments in roads, highways, public transport, sewage systems, airports, harbors, schools, universities and cultural institutions that depend on the involvement of many local governments to prosper. How then, is the economic growth of a metropolitan area affected by a fragmented regional governance structure? Can any of the difference between a slow-growing metropolitan area like Pittsburgh, PA – with its six counties and 412 municipalities – and rapidly expanding Phoenix, AZ – with its two counties and 32 municipalities – be explained by how the two areas are governed?
Proponents of regionalism have long argued that extensive government fragmentation will impede regional economic development since it obstructs the realization of economics of scale in service delivery as well as limits or sometimes even prevents “adequate investments” in regional infrastructure from taking place. As the American economist Charles Tiebout pointed out in the early 1960s, when many smaller jurisdictions act independently of each other there was not only the possibility that potential economics of scale and scope remained unrealized, but that some forms of services and investments that might benefit the metropolitan area as a whole might never be undertaken at all.
Tiebout argued that this problem could emerge at any time when the service that one community produces is affected by actions in neighboring jurisdictions. One example of this is ‘metropolitan transportation’. If each individual locality produces the service within its own limits transportation has been provided, but it’s not certain that the service “metropolitan transportation” – networks of roads and public transportation that enables residents to easily traverse a metropolitan area – has been adequately supplied since that would demand region wide coordination. High levels of fragmentation within a metro area may therefore lead to a lack of investments.
This is also supported by what little empirical evidence there is. Despite a rich theoretical literature about the affects of government fragmentation on infrastructure investments, there has up to this date been little research that sets out to measure this effect. But in an attempt to do this (by looking at the aggregated county expenditure on highways and sewage systems within all US metros) I found that a higher number of counties in a metropolitan area does indeed have a negative effect on infrastructure expenditure, indicating that regionalist have been right – increased government fragmentation leads to less infrastructure investments on a metropolitan level. Because of this, a regional governance structure (which doesn’t have to take the form of one single general-purpose government but could consist of several special-purpose districts such as a public transit authority with regional powers) within a metropolitan area would lead to a more efficient administration and public service provision.
This means that even though a successful Pennsylvania suburb may feel completely independent from the blight of downtown Philadelphia, cities and suburbs are in fact interdependent. Suburbs benefit when their core cities are viable – that is, densely populated and prosperous – since they are part of the same economic region and rely on up-to-date infrastructure.
In Ties that Bind – Central Cities, Suburbs, and the New Metropolitan Region, H.V. Savitch, at the University of Louisville, presented findings that a large share of suburban incomes in major U.S. metropolitan areas is generated in the core cities and that suburban economic developments follow those in the central city. Another economist, Richard Voith of the Federal Reserve Bank in Philadelphia, came to similar conclusions in his City and Suburban Growth: Substitutes or Compliments after investigating whether a metropolitan area’s central city and its surrounding suburbs are substitutes or compliments, and found strong results for the fact that they are compliments. According to Voith, the decline of central cities affects the entire metropolitan region negatively in three ways: through amenities, agglomeration economies (benefits that firms get from locating near each other) and social problems.
When a central city is declining – i.e. experiencing negative population growth and a deteriorating tax base due to a flight for the suburbs – the amenities that it can offer its residents diminish as well. But this is not only a problem for the city in question since some of these amenities (cultural institutions, vibrant pedestrian districts, waterfront parks, libraries etc.) while tied to a single locality are valued by an entire region. When a continuous outflow of residents from the urban core hinders the declining community to provide basic public services and regional amenities such as these; it ends up making the entire metro area less desirable. Part of the allure of a New York suburb is that it is right outside of New York, while a precious few, if any, move to the Detroit metro area because of what Motown can offer.
Metropolitan areas are also affected by a decline in agglomeration economies. Compact development of cities supported by high density public transportation increases the opportunities for agglomeration economies to form. When central cities experience urban decline, agglomeration economies follow suit. Individual firms that benefit from these may then pick up their operations and relocate to another area that offers stronger network effects.
Finally, Voith also discusses the social spillovers that declining central cities generate. With increased out-migration and urban decline, the central city is left with high populations of low-income, low-educated residents, a steadily declining tax-base and strained public services that discourage new firms and citizens from settling down. In the long term, the fragmented metropolitan area gets divided into an ever-growing number of planning and zoning authorities that make regional coordination difficult, while the central city finds itself in a negative spiral of urban decline where it continues to lose residents, jobs and tax-revenues to the suburbs. And in so doing, puts a negative pressure on the metro area as a whole when inner city decay slowly spreads outwards and starts affecting the surrounding municipalities through various spillover effects and, in the long run, leads to the outmigration of suburban residents to more successful metro areas.
An analysis of income and population growth in all US metropolitan areas for the period 1980-2000, based on 2000 US Census data (this was right before the 2010 Census data started trickling in), supports this picture as well. A higher level of municipal fragmentation is negatively associated with population growth in all American metropolitan areas – large ones as well as small ones – while it also has a negative impact on income growth in larger metro areas of more than 300,000 residents. It is therefore clear that the fragmented governance that can be seen in many large American metro areas such as Greater New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or Cleveland – where each metropolitan region consists of hundreds of local governments – leads to slower growth, not only for the decaying central cities but for the region as a whole. Whether this is due to inadequate metropolitan investments, deteriorating amenities, disintegrating agglomeration economies or social problems in the central city that are spreading outwards, it is worsened by a lack of regional coordination that is holding America’s metropolitan areas back.
This piece was originally published for City Mayors 1 April 2011.