City-Suburb Consolidation Might Reverse Rust Belt Urban Decline

The evidence on city-county consolidation is mixed, with some studies showing benefits, others finding negative impacts and still others finding little effect. Furthermore, it’s hard to evaluate the direction of causality, since cities that successfully consolidate with their counties might do so because they’re doing well economically in the first place. It also might be the case that consolidation wasn’t very effective in the mid-20th century, but is more helpful now — the big shift from a manufacturing-based economy to a knowledge-based one, which has powered the urban revival, could have changed the calculus.

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