The Challenge of Local Government Size Theoretical Perspectives, International Experience and Policy Reform
Theoretical Perspectives, International Experience and Policy Reform
- Studies in Fiscal Federalism and State–local Finance series
Edited by Santiago Lago-Peñas and Jorge Martinez-Vazquez
Chapter 9: Local government cooperation for joint provision: the experiences of Brazil and Spain with inter-municipal consortia
Local governments around the world strive to meet residents’ demands for goods and services in a cost-effective manner. Where local governments are small, they may be unable to exploit economies of scale in the production and delivery of services. At the same time, if the benefits of local provision spill over inter-jurisdictional borders while provision costs are internalized by local taxpayers, local governments may be discouraged from provision in the first place, which results in an undesirable, sub-optimal supply of services. One option for dealing with these difficulties is to consolidate local governments into larger units that would allow for scale effects to be maximized and benefit spillovers to be internalized within the providing jurisdiction. However, consolidations are often difficult to achieve, especially due to political resistance to mergers and amalgamations. Indeed, they may even be undesirable, if they run counter to the objective of bringing the government closer to the people, which usually facilitates social control over government operations and allows for information over local preferences and needs to be extracted more efficiently.
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