The Impact of Local Government Organization on Development and Disparities — A Comparative Perspective

“Results of the comparative study presented in this paper suggests that local government organization influences land-use planning, and local development strategies and disparities. Local government reforms can, therefore, serve to modify spatial patterns of development and disparities.”

Based on a review of studies made in the developed and the developing world, the author provides a comparative perspective on these influences. Five major dimensions of local government organization—territorial, functional, political autonomy, fiscal, and electoral—are used to define four extreme models of local government. The American self-government model leads to substantial inequalities and to considerable sprawl.

The Western welfare-state model alleviates these problems somewhat, but at a cost to central government. Its positive impact is also dependent on norms of administration at the central level, whereas reduced competition over economic development has its negative sides. Developing-world-type centralism has no real advantages in terms of development or disparities. The developing-world decentralized model can be regarded as a transitional phase towards either the self-government or the welfare-state models. Its implementation has been partial; hence its impact has, so far, been rather small.

Published in Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy | E. Razin | 2000,,