“Metropolitics and fiscal equity”

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Myron Orfield, a law professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, has developed a theory of metropolitics to describe the political and economic structure of US metropolitan regions and how coalitions of disadvantaged cities can work together to improve regional equity. This selection, written for The City Reader in 2011, summarizes his theory. Local government in metropolitan areas of the United States is fragmented. Residents of different jurisdictions pay very different taxes and receive dramatically different local services. Often the wealthiest jurisdictions with the least need are best off financially. Communities that lose out in the competition for desirable revenue sources become unable to compete for desirable development. Rich jurisdictions grow richer; poor ones are locked into a death spiral of decline. Orfield feels the current governance structure is unfair and inefficient and competition for revenue sources among local governments wasteful and shortsighted. His main concern is to reduce the tax burden on at-risk segregated and at-risk older communities and increase services to their residents. Using statistical and GIS spatial analysis, Orfield distinguishes six types of suburbs in the United States. Three of these he considers to be at risk: at-risk segregated communities, at-risk older communities, and at-risk low-density communities. He calls the others bedroom-developing communities, affluent job centers, and very affluent job centers. He argues that disadvantaged cities should work together to make changes to state law.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe City Reader
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780429523854
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 selection and editorial matter, Richard T. LeGates and Frederic Stout; individual chapters, the contributors.


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