Size and Local Democracy

Size and Local Democracy

Bas Denters, Michael Goldsmith, Andreas Ladner, Poul Erik Mouritzen and Lawrence E. Rose

How large should local governments be, and what are the implications of changing the scale of local governments for the quality of local democracy? These questions have stood at the centre of debates among scholars and public sector reformers alike from antiquity to the present. This monograph offers the first systematic cross-national investigation of these questions using empirical evidence gathered specifically for this purpose. Results provide insights that offer important touchstones for reform activities and academic research efforts in many countries.

Chapter 13: Through the funnel of causality

Bas Denters, Michael Goldsmith, Andreas Ladner, Poul Erik Mouritzen and Lawrence E. Rose

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy


With the results presented in the previous chapter we have come to the end of the funnel of causality set forth in Chapter 1 (see Figure 1.2). In Chapters 4 to 12 we have pursued a step-by-step investigation of how municipal size may, either directly or indirectly, have some statistically significant effect on the quality of local democracy in the four countries investigated. The chapters have taken up many aspects of how citizens relate to their local social and political community. We have discussed various forms of citizens’ social embeddedness (Chapter 4), citizens’ perceptions of local government challenges (Chapter 5), a variety of citizens’ local political orientations, including political interest, political knowledge, subjective political competence, political confidence and political satisfaction (Chapters 6 to 9), and various forms of electoral and non-electoral political participation (Chapters 10 to 12). Prior to offering an overall assessment of our results and discussing the democratic effects of municipal size in general, it is useful to summarize the principal findings regarding the specific effects of size for each of these aspects separately. We do this in the first section of this chapter, beginning with those aspects that are at the left of the funnel of causality (social embeddedness) and then moving further to the right in the funnel. In addition to illuminating the democratic effects of municipal size, which is the primary objective of our investigation, however, our analyses have also shed light on the effects of other variables included in the funnel of causality.

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