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What We Argue About When We Argue About Regionalism

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A new debate emerged in the 1990s about regional solutions to urban problems. The debate has been carried out overwhelmingly within a welfare economics framework that stresses the economic costs and benefits of regional governance structures. Unlike earlier debates about regional reforms, the new regionalists emphasize not just that more collaborative regional governance structures will improve local services but that they will enhance the competitiveness of regions in the global economy as well. The article surveys the evidence on two propositions put forth by the new regionalists: 1) whether fragmented regional governance harms economic growth; and 2) whether suburbs are dependent on cities for their economic well-being. Neither proposition is well supported by research and even if they were, the author concludes, this would not necessarily persuade citizens to support regional reforms. Research on the economic effects of regional governance needs to be supplemented with research on its political effects. The article concludes by examining the effects of regional governance structures on three core American political values.

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/0735-2166.00102

Affiliations: Saint Louis University

Publication date: December 1, 2001

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