Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science, Urban and Regional Politics

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

David Kimball, PhD


Baybeck, Brady


Gary Miller

Lana Stein


Is political fragmentation within the metropolitan area and within central city government a cause of central city decline or just the benign evolution of governance? Advocates of regional governance consider political fragmentation, the number and types of governments in a metropolitan area, a causal factor in decline. However a multiplicity of governments offer individual households greater choice and variety, in other words fragmentation represents the will of the people. All metropolitan areas are fragmented to some degree and whether or not this is harmful to cities and their regions is the empirical question considered. Political explanations on the impact of fragmentation break out into two overarching groups. One school of thought argues that regions struggle and experience slow growth or decline because the problems of the central city act as an anchor pulling the region down, while the other school believes cities struggle due to competition from other governments in their metropolitan area for residents and economic investment. This dissertation seeks to test the long term effects of political fragmentation across metropolitan areas on region-wide segregation, population and own-source revenue in 100 central cities from 1950 through 2000. Political fragmentation is broken down into horizontal and vertical fragmentation, which considers the impact of geographically coterminous governments and jurisdictional overlap, and also includes internal fragmentation, which is the division of governing authority among elected officials. The results of the analyses show that horizontal fragmentation increases segregation across metropolitan areas and reduces the city's share of regional population. Both vertical and horizontal fragmentation are shown to increase the own-source revenue of central cities, and evidence is presented that shows internal fragmentation also increases own-source revenue. Essentially city residents pay more in taxes living in cities with more elected officials, and are surrounded by higher numbers of government and jurisdictional overlap. Fragmentation at the metropolitan level is complex but it is clear that high levels can pose problems to both the city and its region. The implications of these results are thoughtfully analyzed and recommendations are made for future research.