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British Association for American Studies


Philip Davies, The Metropolitan Mosaic: Problems of the Contemporary City


Philip Davies, The Metropolitan Mosaic: Problems of the Contemporary City

BAAS Pamphlet No. 4 (First Published 1980)

ISBN: 0 9504601 4 1

  1. The Contemporary City
  2. Social Problems in the Cities
  3. Financing City Governments
  4. The Politics of Governmental Fragmentation
  5. Sunbelt Cities and National Policy
  6. Guide to Further Reading
  7. Notes

British Association for American Studies All rights reserved. No part of this pamphlet may he reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. The publication of a pamphlet by the British Association for American Studies does not necessarily imply the Association’s official approbation of the opinions expressed therein.

1.The Contemporary City

The general outlook upon cities and the prospects for urban life in the last quarter of the twentieth century tends to be characterized by pessimism and trepidation; a sense of doom surrounds the topic. The New York Times, interested in probing this attitude, recently conducted a survey which included the question, “What’s your long range view for the city as a place to live? In ten or fifteen years, how will it be?” The response confirmed that many people had a bleak vision of the city of the future. The largest group, over 40 per cent of those polled, expected the future to be worse; the white people in the sample were consistently more alarmist in outlook than the blacks.[1] In popular culture the city is often portrayed as a source of corruption and the home of decay and social collapse. Films such as Taxi Driver, Mean Streets and Midnight Cowboy paint the city as a malevolent environment, especially harsh on the poor and disorganized. In much contemporary literature the assumption is made that urban decline and disintegration are inevitable, the only question being precisely when and how it will all happen. For example, an article in Saturday Review claims that cities have come to represent “crowds, crime, noise pollution and traffic” and lays part of the blame for the dissemination of these turbulent images on the broadcaster Johnny Carson, who “night after night … fired shot after shot at New York, the barrage beamed at a nationwide television audience that learned to equate ‘New York’ with ‘city’ and both of them with being mugged, raped and ripped off.[2]

This folklore of widespread urban disaster is only a partial view of reality. Cities are major centres of cultural, educational and technical excellence, and they are vital to the national economy: even the 33 per cent of the United States’ population that lives outside the cities depend on urban markets for their livelihoods. Cities contain the centres of capital and investment which dominate the American economy. Many corporate headquarters remain in city centres, in spite of the widely heralded flight to the suburbs. In sharp distinction to the apocalyptic vision of the city, a recent report points out that most cities in the United States are not in distress, many have economies which are growing or stable, and are apparently able to manage successfully their changes in population.[3] Nonetheless, cities are possessed of a whole gamut of problems deriving in part from the very fact that they have attracted such large numbers of people. The size and density of the urban population exacerbate the difficulties faced by individuals and local governments. Overcrowding accelerates housing deterioration and puts excessive burdens on education, health and other services industrial concentration can create a blanket of pollution which will not easily disperse; rapid growth puts great strains on communities and may create unplanned cities incapable of adapting to changing circumstances. The greater burden of these problems is borne by the poor; the affluent are able to buy their way out of the situation, creating thereby a class-based system of social segregation. The poor, living in neighbourhoods of people similarly disadvantaged, find that a problem shared is not halved, but compounded. The great expansion of city population has created some complications in determining where cities start and finish. In the nineteenth century cities had easily recognizable boundaries, with the limits of city growth usually approximating to a clearly defined area of municipal government. By 1949, however, these conurbations stretched far beyond the boundaries of municipal government, and the United States Census began to define metropolitan areas in which several cities and towns clustered together in great urban conglomerations. By June 1977 there were 281 of these “standard metropolitan statistical areas”, or SMSAs, as shown on the cover of this pamphlet. Most of them have at their core a central city with 50,000 or more inhabitants, although in highly urbanized areas an SMSA may contain more than one central city. The remainder of the SMSA more or less approximates to the suburbs.[4]

The interdependence of modern society ensures that the central city has close links not only with the surrounding suburbs but also with non-metropolitan areas farther afield. Hence the problems of any city cannot be explained—or solved—in isolation. The city may be the victim of pollution originating outside its boundaries and beyond its control; it may suffer from the poor quality of life elsewhere as poor, unemployed people migrate to the town in search of urban opportunities; and its economic basis may be undermined by decisions taken by nationally and internationally important industries and businesses. In this way developments out side the city can create ‘city problems’.

For example, recent technological changes have had a major impact on the character, physical structure, and problems of cities. Cities established in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were built according to the demands of heavy industry and rail transport, and provided massive and concentrated blue-collar employment. Since 1945, however, technological change has meant a move towards light engineering and white-collar work, neither of which suffers from the geographical inertia of heavy industries, necessarily built close to major mineral resources. Established cities will always be adapting to modern demands but the resources for industries based on new technologies may not be readily available, and areas with greater locational advantages will be the new centres of growth. In any case, the predominance of the privately owned automobile over public transportation—and of the truck over the railroad—mean that the central cities are no longer the obvious production and assembly centres; in fact, as city roads have become more crowded and highways have provided access to outlying areas, the suburbs have become the logical industrial sites. As major industries move beyond city boundaries, the cities they abandon are left with all the consequences of industrial decline. Among other things, buildings and factories which when operating were an asset to the city, when abandoned become a liability—often impossible to remodel for a new use, expensive to demolish, and dangerous to leave empty.[5] In this way the con temporary city inherits the detritus left by previous, successful generations . Furthermore, these technological changes have been accompanied by—and have helped to sustain—a migration out of the inner cities by affluent whites. The same logic that has compelled industrial location in the suburbs has also encouraged residential suburban development. Automobile ownership and large-scale highway construction have opened up tracts on the outskirts of cities for housing; large-scale builders have become dominant in the house-building market, using mass-production and assembly line techniques to produce large numbers of houses built to standard designs on suburban land. The people who have moved to the suburbs have been predominantly white and middle-class, with only 5 per cent of suburbanites being black. This is partly due to the generally higher level of affluence of the white community, but has been reinforced by policies of racial and social exclusion practised by many suburban governments. More recently affluent whites have been migrating also to the ‘Sunbelt’, the states of the South and South-West which have seen rapid metropolitan growth in the past two decades. In the 1960s one-and-three-quarter mil lion whites entered the South, and the most recent figures show that whites continue to leave the urban North for the suburban and non-metropolitan South in vast numbers.[6]

Table 1

Distribution of population by race, Spanish origin, and location of residence: 1978.

All Races White Black Spanish
Total (m) % Total (m) % Total (m) % Total (m) %
Metropolitan Areas:
Central Cities 59.7 28.0 44.5 24.1 13.7 55.2 n.a. 51.1
Suburbs 83.3 39.0 77.1 41.7 4.8 19.4 n.a. 34.3
Non-metropolitan 70.4 33.0 63.2 34.2 6.3 25.4 n.a. 14.6
United States 213.5 100 184.8 100 24.8 100 12.0 100


A reverse migration began even earlier, as large numbers of black people moved to the cities and to the North. Between 1940 and 1970 the black population changed from being 49 per cent urban to 74 per cent urban; in 1940, 22 per cent of blacks lived in the North, but by 1970 this figure had increased to 39 per cent. In the 1960s one-and-one-quarter million blacks left the South, primarily for Northern cities, though recent figures show that this migration of poor blacks is now almost balanced by a reverse flow of more affluent blacks returning to the South. Throughout the same decades South to North migration was taking place among low-income whites, in particular from Appalachia and the Ozarks to such cities as Cincinnati, Cleveland and Chicago. West Virginia, the state most hit by this white outmigration, suffered a 13 per cent population loss between 1950 and 1970. High levels of unemployment and poverty in their home areas constituted the main reason for these migations.[7] Thus demographic movements have tended to take more affluent and more skilled whites out of the central cities, and to move in more deprived and less skilled people, mainly black, at a time when he demand for unskilled labour is rapidly diminishing. Between 1970 and 1978 the white population of central cities dropped by almost four-and-a-half million while the number of blacks in cities rose by about 800,000. Since the younger and most fertile members of the population are over-represented in all migrating populations, mobility has an exaggerated long-term effect on changes in population balance. The whole of the most recent changes in black-white proportions in city populations can be accounted for by white outmigration and black natural increase. In some cities, even if no further white outmigration took place, the population would become increasingly black owing to the higher proportion of young people in the black central city population.[8] Consequently the de facto racial segregation in many cities is likely to increase, leaving a larger black population isolated in the central cities to suffer the effects of depressed urban economies. As a result America’s central-city population is not a random sample of the nation, as Table 1 demonstrates.[9]There is a concentration of racial minorities and economically deprived groups which, regardless of location, are in any case suffering from high unemployment, low levels of educational attainment, poverty, and inadequate housing. In many cases these are national problems which have become located in cities through migration—problems in the cities rather than problems of the cities.

2. Social Problems in the Cities

The 1960s was a decade of great civil unrest in America’s cities. Almost every summer there were serious disorders, usually concentrated in the black ghettos. In 1965 the Watts area of Los Angeles was the site of the worst riot in the United States for over twenty years; thirty-four people were killed, hundreds injured and approximately $35 million worth of damage done as blacks destroyed white-owned businesses and battled with the police and National Guard. Riots devastated many cities across the nation; Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Washington, D.C., all suffered major disturbances. The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (the Kerner Commission) reported that the sense of grievance among black city dwellers was so intense that a minor incident could trigger a massively violent community response. The Com mission identified twelve such grievances including police practices, unemployment and underemployment, inadequate housing, inadequate education, racial discrimination, and inadequate public services.[10] At the end of the decade President Nixon declared that the urban crisis was over. That this complacency was misplaced was demonstrated by the savage riots in Miami in May 1980; most of the urban problems cited in the Commission’s 1968 Report still exist. At the root of many urban social problems lies poverty. Admittedly, as Table 2 demonstrates[11] the proportion of the population who are considered poor is lower in metropolitan than in non-metropolitan areas, but the concentration of poor people in the central cities makes the problem much more visible, acute and politically dangerous than in the rural areas. As it is, black and white poverty rates in the central cities exceed national and metropolitan rates, and there is evidence that poverty is increasingly a central-city problem. Between 1975 and 1977 the number of poor people in the United States fell by over one million. All residential areas of the United States shared in this fall except the central cities, where the number of people in poverty increased by 113,000 to 9,203,000.[12]

In the 1960s serious efforts were made to tackle this “re-discovered” problem of urban poverty, but it is no longer the subject of new political initiatives. The black vote is firmly in the Democratic camp, and the Republican Party seems unlikely to make substantial inroads into it. President Carter’s “Program for Better Jobs and Incomes” was little more than a reshuffling of legislative resources left over after the Nixon and Ford administrations. After a decade of rhetoric and raised expectations the central-city poverty rate remains stable—roughly one out of every six city inhabitants, one out of every three blacks. Moreover, the government is very stringent in its definition of poverty. The official definition of the urban poverty level was set at an annual income for a family of four of $3,022 in 1960, and had risen to $6,191 per annum in 1977. During the same period the median income of all families increased from $5,610 to $16,009, meaning that whereas in 1960 a poor family would reach the median by increasing their income by four-fifths, in 1977 the median was more than two-and-a-half times the poverty lcvel.[13] Anti-poverty legislation has not achieved its stated aim of eliminating poverty, but has instead left a relatively stable number of poor people increasingly out of touch with the national average income level. While the rate of persistent poverty is much lower than the overall poverty rate, there are many families moving out of and in to poverty each year. In the nine years beginning 1967, a University of Michigan study of five thousand families found that 25.l per cent of them had been below the poverty line for at least one of the years studied.[14] Poverty is thus much more pervasive than the annual rate alone would suggest. Despite aid from welfare programmes such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children, some groups in society—such as blacks and families headed by an unmarried parent—are still much more at risk than other groups. The working poor are helped very little by any form of government financial aid; fewer than one-third of this group received enough aid to lift them out of poverty. Even an increase in the level of welfare payments would not help all the poor, since over forty per cent of them do not receive benefits from the welfare system. This pervasiveness of poverty shows that a substantial proportion of the population, while not living in continual poverty, lives extremely close to that borderline.

Table 2

Percentage of the population below the poverty level, by race, and location of residence: 1977.

All Races
Metropolitan Areas:
Central Cities
United States


The relatively low incomes of persons living in central cities, especially those belonging to racial and ethnic minorities, put them in an especially insecure position with respect to changes in employment structure or levels of unemployment. The central cities have a larger share of national unemployment than they do of the national population. About one-third of the nation’s total unemployed live in central cities, whereas only 28 per cent of the tot population are to be found there. As can be seen from Table 3,[15] unemployment rates rose dramatically in the 1970s; this rise especially hit blacks, and even more particularly blacks living in central cities. Over half the inner cities’ teenage black workforce was unemployed in 1977. Whereas the national unemployment rate rose 1.92 times between 1970 and 1977, the rise was higher in the central cities (2.02 times) and was particularly high among persons of Spanish origin in central cities (2.15 times) and among inner-city blacks (2.36 times). It is clear that during the 1970s unemployment became even more concentrated in the central cities, and that an increasingly disproportionate share of the burden fell upon American blacks. Low income, unemployment, and a low rate of participation in the labour-force[16] combine to produce a population with a very high need for public assistance, the demand for which has increased in the 1970s, again owing faster in central cities than elsewhere. Between 1970 and 1977, whereas the population of families receiving public assistance increased from 3.5 to 5.3 per cent in the suburbs and from 5.7 to 8.0 per cent in non-metropolitan areas, in central cities it increased from 7.3 to 12.4 per cent.[17]

Table 3

Percent unemployment among males: 1970 and 1977.

Age Range
United States
Central Cities
Total: 16+
Total: 16+
Spanish origin
Total: 16+
All races
Total: 16+


In a participant observation stud which gives insight into working-class lifestyles, Joseph T. Howell describes a small blue collar (or working-class) community on the edge of Washington, D.C. He classifies the families by a set of characteristics he calls ‘hard living’—toughness, political alienation, a strong sense of individualism, present-time orientation, rootlessness, marital instability and heavy drinking—as opposed to ‘settled living’. One family, the Shackelfords, have an income which puts them just above the poverty line, but the description of their crisis-ridden life—dilapidated housing, eviction, ill-health—belies the fact that technically they are not poor. Virtually all contact the Shackelfords have with the urban welfare establishment is bureaucratic, complex and degrading. A welfare benefit is denied because the relevant papers are misfiled; a cheque is stopped because a doctor’s receptionist gives incorrect information to the welfare office; each month the claim for food stamps involves arriving at the welfare office between 5a.m. and 7a.m., queuing for two or three hours, and perhaps still being deferred to the following day. At one point when the Shackelfords can find nowhere to live and are sleeping in their car, a social worker refuses to help them purchase a mobile home, saying ” . . . my supervisor and I feel that a mobile home is an unsuitable living environment for a lower income family.” When Howell telephones on the Shackelfords’ behalf to dispute the decision, he is informed that his interference can only hurt those whom he is trying to help.

Sam Moseby is a garage mechanic and the Moseby’s family in home is about the national average—well above the poverty line. However, the Dodge dealer Sam works for closes and Sam has to find another job. After a couple of weeks without work he finds a less skilled position, with poorer working conditions, and involving a pay cut of 40 per cent. A few months later illness makes him miss two weeks of work. This combination of events almost halves the family’s annual income. The experiences of both families exemplify the insecurity that can affect people, including those above the poverty line. Both families have to cope with outside influences on their lives—the welfare agencies, redundancy—over which they have no influence. Both families suffer changes in circumstances which help explain the pervasiveness of poverty found in the Michigan study.[18]

The concentration of the poor and racial minorities in the central cities further creates a whole range of complicated problems for urban services. For example, a Department of Health, Education and Welfare report points out:

On nearly every index we have, the poor and the racial minorities face worse than their opposites. Their lives are shorter; they have more chronic and debilitating illness; their infant and maternal death rates are higher; their protection, though immunization, against infectious disease is far lower.[19]

Health care is inadequate in areas of greatest need. Physicians are unevenly distributed geographically so that a suburb may have eight times more doctors proportionate to population than its neighbouring inner city. In part this is a consequence of a system where most of the costs are borne out of consumer fees or private insurance. Although government subsidies have increased in recent years, by 1974 they still accounted for only about 40 per cent of health-care expenditure. When the greater proportion of costs is paid by the individual (directly or through insurance premiums), the less affluent are discouraged from seeking medical care, and practitioners locate to serve that sector most able and willing to pay. Some government health programmes, especially Medicaid, a system of health benefits for the poor, have greatly helped urban populations. However, the availability of these benefits is not uniform since each state has the option to decide its level of participation, and the way in which it will distribute costs between levels of government. Hence, for example, Arizona does not participate in the Medicaid programme at all, whereas New York in 1978 provided nearly one-and-quarter million persons with 281 million worth of Medicaid benefits. Although the technology and personnel in American health care are of a very high standard, lack of co-ordinated planning has resulted in a maldistribution of funds and services and a rapid increase in costs which has hit the central cities particularly hard.[20]

Poor housing is an endemic problem in the inner city. Ten years after the Kerner Commission Report a study Reported a 13 per cent increase in overcrowded and substandard housing units, and also found that the number o households suffering some form of housing deprivation had increased by two-and-a-half times to 16.8 million. Housing segregation has not diminished, and racial minorities are still about three times more likely to occupy substandard housing than whites. Six main reasons have been cited for this continuing housing crisis: partisan politics have prevented comprehensive planning at the federal level; government-subsidized low income housing programmes have been subject to widespread fraud resulting in the building of substandard housing; changes in federal funding programmes have allowed local governments to shift spending priorities away from low-income housing; the federal government has always underinvested in home-building; the 1970s have seen rapidly increasing housing costs in a period of recession, undermining families’ ability to afford decent accommodation; and earlier estimates of housing need were mistakenly set too low.[21]

Selective redevelopment of inner-city housing has in fact taken place. Over a hundred neighbourhoods in the thirty largest cities now have some areas of ‘gentrification’, as increases in suburban housing prices and in commuting costs make inner-city living more attractive. Blocks of deteriorating housing have been renovated, mainly by young, childless professionals who have moved there from another part of the inner city to take advantage of the area going up-market. Although privately financed urban improvement may be encouraging, it can work to the disadvantage of the poor. The renovation of dilapidated housing by private-market operators involves the removal of the former low-income occupiers. As an area becomes gentrified, perhaps by the efforts of a few individuals, landlords may take the opportunity to evict low-income tenants, renovate the property and sell or rent at a much higher return. As an area improves the land taxes are reassessed and building codes are enforced so that owner-occupiers on low or fixed incomes find that they can no longer afford to maintain their homes. Such forces can lead to dramatic changes, as for example in Washington, D.C., where the Capitol Hill area has changed from being a mostly poor and black area to having a population which is 80 per cent white and predominantly professional. While the housing stock of a neighbourhood is improved by gentrification, the erstwhile inhabitants just move on to other slums.[22]

Racial isolation in schools and standards of educational achievement have been among the most widely debated topics in the urban public services during the past two decades. Although the United States Supreme Court declared in 1954 that laws which segregated education on racial lines were unconstitutional, the majority of American children still attend schools which are ‘single-race’. This racial isolation is particularly pronounced in the large urban schools where segregation ratios (the proportion of pupils who would have to move to achieve a racial balance) are often 70 per cent and in some cases as high as 90 per cent.[23] Given the heavily segregated housing patterns of the cities, the sheer logistical problems of achieving racial balance in schools are immense. Since active federal support for desegregation waned during the 1970s, there seems little prospect of any great progress in the near future.

There is still much debate as to whether desegregation affects achievement in schools, but the general level of achievement is another cause for concern. Achievement levels in the inner cities are lower than the nation average, and in recent years achievement scores in secondary schools have declined. A study of many cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Miami and Baltimore, found sharp falls in reading, comprehension and mathematics test scores over the period 1966 to 1974.[24] The urban education system in still appears to be failing to provide adequate service.

This complex of problems has contributed to the growth of violence and crime in the central cities. A survey conducted by the New York Times in 1977 asked, “Is there any place within a mile of your home where you would be afraid to walk at night?” Seven out of every ten respondents answered in the affirmative. The reason for his public alarm was obvious, for in the previous year “there were 1,622 homicides in [New York] city … . The city’s homicide rate was 20.5 murders for every 100,000 residents … . Detroit has a homicide rate of 49.3 murders for each 100,000 persons.”[25] Crime rates in cities are higher than the national average for many categories of crime, including murder, robbery and assault, and the rates increase as the city gets larger, cities over 250,000 having crime rates double those of other cities. There is therefore a demand for greater police protection, especially by racial and ethnic minorities, who are much more likely than whites to be the victims of crime.[26] Public concern over the quality of city policing is widespread. Brutality, corruption and racial prejudice have on occasion been evident in police behaviour, undermining the trust between the community and the police. The characteristic reaction of the police force has been to close ranks against the public, treating all accusations as attacks on law enforcement. The police have become increasingly unionized and militant, and are emerging as a significant political force in many cities; indeed, black mayor Carl Stokes of Cleveland, Ohio, chose not to run for re-election in part because of the opposition of the police.[27] Some police foes have made substantial efforts to improve community relations, for example by recruiting officers from minority groups in the city, but such efforts often meet with considerable opposition from serving policemen and the public. In a situation where civilians are suspicious of police motives and efficiency, and where the police are in their turn sceptical about the extent of public support in their dangerous and difficult jobs, the morale of both groups has fallen and the fear of crime has increased.

The failure of urban services to provide an adequate level of care and protection often results from the special burdens put on these services, owing to the concentration of the poor and racial minorities in the cities. for example, high levels of unemployment mean high expenditures on public assistance to support this concentrated dependent population, and city budgets frequently can not afford to bear this extra burden. If city services are not always geared to meet the demands made upon them by the massive concentrations of people suffering hardship, this is at least in part because of the financial difficulties cities face.


3: Financing City Governments

Public facilities and services will always be expensive in a city, since the costs of land, labour and building are higher than elsewhere. High urban crime rates increase the cost of emergency services, the concentration of population puts extra burdens on public utilities, and urban streets are very heavily used. In fact the expenditures of central cities on services such as fire and police protection, water and sewerage services, garbage disposal, highway maintenance and recreation facilities are double those in suburban areas. But, in addition, the disproportionate concentration of poverty, unemployment, and disadvantaged racial and ethnic minorities in the cities results in many of the usual functions of local government becoming even more expense. Welfare payments, subsidized medical care and subsidized housing must all cost more in areas with high proportions of poor people if adequate levels of these services are being provided. In areas of high unemployment, training and job-creation schemes are a priority, and need money spending on them. Similarly, education is likely to be more expensive when the children come from socially deprived communities and need greater than average help to achieve their full educational potential. Hence the amount spent on education in cities exceeds suburban expenditure, even though school costs generally account for less than 40 per cent of central-city expenditure compared with the 60 per cent devoted to education by the suburbs. In many countries nowadays these problems would be considered a national responsibility, but in the United States a strong tradition persists of regarding them as local problems to be solved locally. Hence even though an increasing share of the costs is borne by state and federal governments, the main financial burden continues to fall on the cities’ municipal governments.[28]

How a municipal government faces up to these demands and burdens depends largely on which groups control a city’s policy—those who need the public services most, or those who have to foot the bill. To a remarkable extent the direction of city policy reflects the political structure it has inherited. In the late nineteenth century, city government generally followed the traditional arrangement with a mayor and councillors elected from wards, but not all mayor-centred governments were successful. Cities with institutionally weak mayors suffered from a lack of policy direction, while in some cities where the mayor had sweeping powers it was difficult to check the excesses of political leadership. Accusations of corruption and inefficiency in the early part of the twentieth century encouraged the adoption in some cities of alternative forms of government, notably the council-manager form and the commission system. In the former, a council was elected at large from the city, using a non-partisan ballot. This council appointed a manager whose job it was to attend to the administration of the city, and to carry out the council’s policies. The commission system also employed the non-partisan ballot and at-large election, but the electorate chose a person to head each of a number of Commissions, or administrative departments. Each elected Commissioner had independent responsibility for one department, and the Commissioners together formed the city’s legislative body. Cities which have grown up during the present century have had all these models to choose from, as have the increasing number of suburban governments which have been incorporated in recent years; by contrast, old regional centres and early cities have had long established governmental structures and functions which have tended to persist. Similarly the larger the city, the more likely is it to retain the mayor-council form of government, as Table 4 shows.[29]

Table 4

Form of government in cities, by size of population: 1972.

 Population Group

a = Mayor-Council b = Council-Manager c = Commission d = Other

In ‘reformed cities’ the influence of social and ethnic minorities tends to be small, and that of the middle class predominates; in the older, larger cities local politicians are more responsive to deprived social and ethnic groups. As a result, the level of public spending and the number and scope of services generally vary with the age of the city. Newer cities are more narrow and specialized in their service functions: frequently some services, such as garbage disposal, may be left to private enterprise, others, like the provision of mains water, to a private licensed monopoly. Older cities, particularly the large cities of the North East and North Central states with their history of industrial development, are more comprehensive in the services they maintain, and central city governments in general support a wider range of services than the suburbs.[30]

Furthermore, the policy choices of municipal governments are restricted by the limitations imposed by their state government. After all, municipal corporations owe their origin to, and derive their powers and rights wholly from, the state legislature; they can thus exercise only powers which are expressly granted them by the state, or implied by the express powers, or which are judged essential to the operation of the corporation. This blanket restriction also limits the powers of local governments to raise money since any local innovation in taxation or borrowing policy must have state authorization. Since 1961 reapportionment has in creased the representation of central cities in state legislatures, yet, even so, state legislatures are often dominated by rural and suburban interests which are frequently unsympathetic to the problems of the central city and devoted to the principles of economical government.

The only major local tax allowed by all state governments is the property tax, which is similar to British “rates”, and over 80 per cent of local-government tax revenue comes from this source. However, property tax is inelastic. Except in a rapidly developing city, the valuation of property and the revenue accruing are unlikely to keep pace with the rising costs of public services. This is especially hard on big cities, where demands for services have increased most in recent years. These cities have therefore led the way in trying to develop local government income from alternative sources, and in persuading state governments to agree to the changes. As a result of the increasing use of local sales taxes (levied on most retail sales) and income taxes, cities with over 300,000 population had reduced their dependence on property taxes to about 60 per cent of local-government tax revenue by 1974. Furthermore, these large cities have developed local non-tax resources, such as user charges (fees for public facilities) and licence charges, until by 1974 they were providing almost one-third of local revenue. However, since only about half the states allow a local general sales tax, and only a minority (ten states in 1973) allow local income taxes, a large number of cities are unable to tap alternative sources of revenue.

As a result, most cities must still rely heavily on non-income taxes. This has two major consequences. Firstly the overall tax system is regressive; the poor indirectly pay a higher proportion of their income in taxes than do the affluent. Secondly, though federal income-tax receipts respond automatically to rises in national income, local tax sources are not so responsive. Hence, “each 1 per cent rise in GNP raises federal revenue by 1.5 per cent, but city revenues by only 0.5 per cent. With city spending rising so much faster than GNP, this spells financial trouble.’’[31] Consequently many city governments have difficulty in meeting their budgeted requirements, as the cost of labour-intensive city services steadily rises in all inner cities. Even a fiscally conservative city, committed to keeping costs to a minimum, may find that merely keeping services at the same level from year to year necessitates increased expenditure. Oakland, California, a medium-sized city with a conservative approach, has found an annual 8 per cent growth in expenditures necessary to maintain the previous levels of service provision.[32] One long established practice is to raise revenue by the issue of municipal bonds. Purchasers of these bonds in effect lend money to governments, generally at high rates of interest which is often tax-free. State governments often impose limits on how many bonds a municipality may issue, or require local referenda on bond sales to restrict the degree to which the device is used. The gross amount of municipal debt has increased considerably in recent years, but the debt-service payment (roughly equivalent to interest charges payable by the municipality) in all state and local government has remained stable at about 20 per cent of general revenue. This general average hides the fact that some local governments particularly in need of cash have committed themselves more heavily to this kind of debt, which is now costing them a large proportion of their revenue; for example, New York showed an increase in its debt-service payment to bond holders from 35 per cent of general revenue in 1966 to 44 per cent in 1973.[33]

Table 5

Intergovernmental aid to municipalities, by source of aid: 1965-1977.

Source of Aid
State Governments
Federal Revenue Sharing
Other Federal Aid
Other Intergovern-mental Aid
All Intergovern-mental Aid
Total Municipal Revenue

Given the limitations which exist on the powers of city governments to solve their fiscal problems, it is understandable that they should look to higher levels of government for aid. State and federal aid to cities has increased substantially in recent years, as can be seen from Table 5:[34] intergovernmental aid now accounts for almost 40 per cent of total city revenue, having increased from 22.3 per cent since the mid-sixties. In the larger cities this dependence is especially high; in 1977 cities over 500,000 in population received 30.2 per cent of their general revenue in the form of state aid, although some of this money comes from the federal government, being channelled to the cities via the state government. In 1972 total state aid averaged about 60 per cent of the revenue local governments raised from local sources, but this figure hides the wide variation from up to 100 or 150 per cent in New Mexico, North Carolina and South Carolina down to 12 to 25 per cent in Massachusetts and South Dakota.[35] Similarly the purposes for which aid is given vary widely between states, though over 80 per cent of state support for local governments is for education, public welfare and highways.

These wide variations make it difficult to generalize about the benefits given by state aid. But undoubtedly the willingness or otherwise of state governments to become involved in the support of local government affects the ability of city governments to carry out their functions effectively, and while intergovernmental aid has helped cities maintain essential services, state regulations can make the cities’ financial problems even worse. For example, the raising of revenue for the Aid to Families with Dependent Children programme (AFDC) and Medicaid payments is a state responsibility, and only twenty-one states require local-government cash contributions for these purposes. In sixteen of these states local governments bear less than 10 per cent of Medicaid and AFDC costs; in Minnesota it reaches 21.8 per cent, while New York demands the highest local contribution of any state at 23 per cent. In this way the regressive policies of New York State regarding the division of responsibility for providing welfare and health-care services have put a particularly heavy burden on local governments in that state, and as a result in 1975 New York City had to raise about one billion dollars to pay its welfare-related expenditures.[36] The example of New York also demonstrates how intergovernmental aid, even when essential, can place an ailing city under unwelcome restrictions. The City’s fiscal problems became critical in April 1975 when its municipal bonds found no buyers, and it was saved from defaulting on its debts only by a series of emergency aid payments from the federal government. One of the conditions for this aid was that control over the city’s finances be placed in the hands of a state-dominated Emergency Finance Control Board. This probably ensures that the city’s ability to borrow money depends on its willingness to undergo sharp cuts in the city budget. Yet at the same time the maintenance of New York City’s services at an adequate level requires even greater expenditure. A recent report claims that the streets, water, sewer and transit systems are in a severe state of disrepair, and that this physical plant “needs a significantly increased rate of investment in maintenance and replacement if serious problems are to be avoided in the coming decades.”[37] This is an extreme but telling example of the central cities’ dilemma—the necessity on the one hand to provide services and on the other to maintain budgetary policies acceptable to their paymasters, be they creditors, other governments, or taxpayers.

In recent years the level of local taxes has led to a number of ‘taxpayers’ revolts’, the most dramatic of which was the passing in June 1978 of California’s Proposition Thirteen. This was the result of a public petition to the California state government, known as an initiative proposal, demanding that a proposition imposing major local tax cuts be put to the vote at a state-wide election. The overwhelming two-thirds majority received by Proposition Thirteen, together with similar initiative victories in Nevada and Idaho, caused widespread fears of an era of enforced austerity which would hit the fiscally distressed areas of the nation most hard. The initial indicators are not of sweeping national cuts. In the 1978 elections half the referenda proposing limits on taxation and government spending were defeated, while in 1980 a further tax-cutting initiative, Proposition Nine, was defeated in California by a 61 per cent majority—almost as great as that which passed Proposition Thirteen two years earlier.

In 1979 fiscal problems in Cleveland, Ohio, reached a critical point when the city defaulted on its bond payments—the first time a major city had done so since the 1930s. Subsequently a referendum to increase the personal income tax levied by the city was passed by a margin of two to one. This has to be set against the experience of Cleveland in 1970 when black mayor Carl Stokes supported one tax reform proposal, the white-dominated council presented a separate plan, and the racially divided electorate rejected both, precipitating a financial crisis in the early seventies. The inability to agree on an earlier solution certainly contributed to Cleveland’s 1979 crisis, but the local reaction in voting for increased taxes suggests that the trend favouring limitations on tax gathering is not uniform. However, the frequent shifts in local opinion give politicians no solid base from which to plan, and the solution to Cleveland’s problems is unlikely to be found in reforms which do not involve long-term planning and the co-operation of neighbouring governments.

America’s metropolitan areas contain sectors of considerable wealth and burgeoning prosperity, yet central cities often face this anomaly of high demand for services with inadequate fiscal resources. In order to resolve this problem the resources should be available to the governments whose need is greatest. That this need is rarely fulfilled is a direct consequence of local-government fragmentation and the politics of self-interest.

4: The Politics of Governmental Fragmentation

In its 1976 report on Improving Urban America, the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations explains how:

local governments were never created on any rational or planned basis. Counties and townships were created to serve as decentralized arms of colonial and then state governments, and cities and towns were added as residents sought to incorporate to achieve representation and self-determination of local policy matters. Special districts were added to fill in the service cracks not provided for adequately by existing general purpose governments or, in the case of schools, because of the 19th century belief that politics could thereby be removed from educational policy making.

In this brief history of American local government one finds the roots of urban America’s political fragmentation. The various local governments were not formed as part of any rational and efficient system; each individual government, with its own specific function, was established in response to a particular local need at a particular time. Once a government has been established it is difficult to dismantle; even though metropolitan society has be come increasingly interdependent, the metropolis remains a patch work of “competing, overlapping, uncoordinated, independent political units.”[38]

America’s Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas in 1972 contained 22,185 different local governments. Sixty-five of these metropolitan areas contained over one hundred local governments each, while thirteen of the largest SMSAs had over 251 local governments each. According to the Advisory Commission, “Although wide variations [are] apparent the ‘typical’ SMSA had two counties, thirteen townships, twenty-one municipalities, eighteen school districts, and thirty special districts.”[39] This tangle of governments has been eased in recent years by extensive consolidation of school districts into larger units, but the number of special districts has increased—from 7,569 in 1967 to 8,054 in 1972. Special districts, like school districts, are generally responsible for one function only, for example fire protection, cemeteries, hospitals, sewerage or water supply. These districts were set up to provide a service for some geographical region—often here the existing general purpose governments would not or could not, provide that service. But, unlike school districts, special districts cannot all levy taxes; about half of them are limited to such sources as service charges, although almost all of them can receive grants from other governments.

The complexity of this governmental maze is increased by the fact that the borders of the various bodies are not necessarily coterminous. Special districts may provide their particular function in areas overlapping two or three counties, townships and municipalities. As a result a community may find itself subject to layer after layer of government. The average central city has more than four layers of local government, and in some metropolitan areas there are many more. For example, the 16,007 people living in Whitehall, Pennsylvania, in 1972 were subject to nation, state, and the following authorities: Air Quality Control Region, South western Pennsylvania Regional Planning Commission, Western Pennsylvania Water Company, and Allegheny County; the county’s Port Authority, Criminal Justice Commission, Soil and Water Conservation District, and Sanitary Authority; the City of Pittsburgh, the South Hills Area Council of Governments and Regional Planning Commission, Pleasant Hills Sanitary Authority, and the Baldwin-Whitehall Schools Authority and Schools District.[40]

General-purpose local governments, incorporated under the terms of state law, have continued to be established since 1945, especially in the suburbs, where independent municipalities have been incorporated or existing government boundaries strengthened. Between 1967 and 1972, 148 new municipalities were incorporated within SMSAs and in 1973 eighty-two more were added, bringing the total to over 5,400. Many of these local governments are small. Almost two-thirds of them had fewer than 5,000 residents and about 30 per cent had fewer than 1,000 in 1972. The governments have often been formed by small, homogeneous communities all the better to serve their own interests. Amongst their priorities will be the desire to preserve the character and homogeneity of the community by developing political and legal borders between the community and any neighbouring areas with urban problems.

The rapidly growing suburban community does not wish to see the social and economic problems of the inner city developing within its own territory, and it has a fine defence against this in zoning laws. Local governments are able to pass legislation on land use and building standards within their jurisdiction. This local discretion has been used by suburbs to maintain their homogeneity. By permitting the construction only of single-family dwellings on large plots, or by prohibiting multiple-unit housing or prefabricated housing, a local government may use its zoning powers to fix a minimum cost on a home in that community, thereby determining the socio-economic make-up of the population. For example, in 1971 in Westchester County, outside New York City, about 94 per cent of the land was zoned for residential uses and 99 per cent of that for single-family homes, one-eighth with minimum lot sizes of four acres.[41]

There is little incentive for municipalities to co-operate with neighbouring governments. The local government’s aim must be to provide an attractive range of services at reasonable cost. Low taxes may be an asset, but high taxes in conjunction with, for example, good educational facilities may be even more attractive to a middle-class family. It is up to the local government to find that combination of services which serves best to attract residents and development beneficial to the community. The fragmentation of local governments puts each local-government package ‘on sale’ to the potential residents or industrial and retail investors, and therefore places neighbouring local governments in competition with each other to attract the ‘best’ available consumer. In such a situation, any aid to other local communities would serve to increase the costs on a local government at the same time as benefiting a competitor.

Owing to the fact that expensive services and high-cost citizens are geographically localized, the fragmentation of local government gives people who can afford it the opportunity to isolate themselves from the problem. High costs necessarily translate into high local taxes; the local-government system ensures that these costs are confined within a given area. A relatively minor relocation may put a citizen into a different municipality, and thereby beyond the reach of the central cities’ high tax rates. It is the inner-city citizen who has to bear the cost of supporting inner-city governments. The suburbanite, dependent upon the inner city for his or her livelihood, can retreat behind local-government barriers to avoid paying for services essential to the maintenance of the central city. The artificial political barriers within the metropolis encourage a governmental autonomy which flies in the face of the reality of metropolitan interdependence. The many overlapping and competing governments hinder the prospects for metropolitan planning in the interests of a metropolitan area at large rather than to serve the ends of a particular locality. Even where the motivation for co-operation exists, it is not easy to achieve amongst this network of political boundaries. An added problem is suffered by those cities which straddle state lines; in 1970 there were thirty two metropolitan areas in such a position. For example, Quad City is made up of Davenport in Iowa, and of Rock Island, Moline and East Moline in Illinois; here no fewer than 252 interjurisdictional agreements have had to be made on such matters as law enforcement, transportation, health, sewage disposal, and parks and recreation.[42]

The limitations imposed by the fragmented metropolitan structure have contributed to the inner cities’ fiscal crisis. As the cost of city services has increased, so many families have moved to suburban communities where the tax burdens may be lower, and a higher proportion of local funds remains for education and related services. Left in the inner cities are those too poor to move. As a result of this movement, between 1970 and 1977 the cities lost individuals and families with an aggregate income of 48 billion. In the four years to 1974 the loss in rents was equivalent to the destruction of almost one-and-a-half million residential units, and the loss in food purchasing was equivalent to the closing down of a thousand supermarkets.[43] Moreover, the annual rate of income loss from the cities is still accelerating. This presents a picture of long-term shrinkage in central-city property values and consumer sales which will, in their turn, have an impact on local property tax receipts and sales-tax revenue, and must eventually lead to reductions in city services. This loss of revenue puts a yet larger burden on the taxpaying citizens remaining in the central cities, as the urban services still have to be maintained; hence, local tax rates must accelerate to maintain existing services, thus exerting still more pressure on families with the wherewithal to move away from the cities. Yet many cities have no alternative but to follow this self-defeating course of action.

The consolidation of small local governments into larger metropolitan units has been widely proposed in order that “the wealth, power and credit of the area as a whole may be mobilized for the solution of the over-all problems of the area.”[44] The aim is to reduce the number of small, independent local governments, to create larger, more mixed taxing regions, and so to enable inner cities to increase their tax base and obtain more generalized control over metropolitan development. If local-government boundaries are rationalized in such a way that the gross disparities in tax burden and levels of service no longer exist between local-government units, the incentive to migrate to lower tax areas should be reduced.

Since 1945 such large-scale metropolitan consolidation has been implemented in a few states. One method has been to allow inner cities to annex the surrounding urbanized areas. In some cases it has taken the form of city-county consolidation, as for example in Nashville-Davidson, Tennessee ( 1962) and the Anchorage-Greater Anchorage Area Borough, Alaska (1975). In the Tidewater region of Virginia a series of mergers of counties, cities and towns has not produced area-wide government consolidation, but the SMSAs concerned now each contain only six units of local government, all of viable size.[45]

However, more proposals of this kind have been lost than won. People who benefit from the differences in tax levels within metropolitan areas rarely support plans for annexation or consolidation of tax-levying local governments. If the area surrounding the central city is made up of already incorporated and independent communities, then annexation becomes very difficult since a majority vote in favour of annexation would be required from each of these surrounding municipalities. The power to annex their way out of problems is denied most particularly to older cities, surrounded by long-established, independently incorporated suburbs. Some newer cities of the South and West, where suburban settlement and incorporation have had less time to develop, have proved more able to annex surrounding territories, and some states, for example Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia, have given cities greater powers of annexation and have limited the rights of new suburbs to become independently incorporated when adjacent to city boundaries. Nevertheless, over 70 per cent of suburbanites live in communities with strong, well-established governments, and are therefore able to resist being swallowed up in some central city tax area.[46]

Opposition to the expansion of city-government boundaries does not come only from suburbanites. Political leaders from the inner city may fear for their power base if the electorate becomes more diverse. Black political leaders have been elected to office in increasing numbers as migration patterns have produced concentrations of black voters in central cities. Black mayors have been elected in such major cities as Atlanta, Detroit, Newark, Gary and for a time Cleveland, and the number of black council members and other officials has been increasing. Although many of these victories have been in cities with severe problems, they have provided the black community with a nationally recognizablc political leadership. Many black politicians fear that metropolitanization of local governments will dilute this black power, and that any benefits gained through the increased availability of tax resources will be offset by loss of power over the distribution of those re sources. One such case, in Virginia, has led to that state instituting a partial moratorium on annexation.[47]

State governments can help central cities in other ways also. F or example, the states which require local-government contributions towards the cost of the AFDC welfare programme levy the contributions at the county level, thus forcing some suburbs to share their neighbouring central city’s costs, though this is of no help to large cities like New York whose borders are coterminous with county boundaries. More usefully, the state governments some times assume the responsibility for some functions traditionally the preserve of local government. For example, several states such as Alabama and Montana handle public assistance on a state level, while in Hawaii education, usually the largest individual item in a local government’s budget, is a state function.[48] By assuming responsibility for such functions, the state is able to relieve inequities stemming from differences in resource capacity between local governments, but this option has not met with widespread favour.

The fact is Americans remain attached to their traditional belief in the value of strong, responsible local governments close to the electorate. Even the incredible fragmentation of city government has its defenders, who emphasize its efficiency and democratic nature. A fragmented system gives the city-dweller multiple points of access to the decision-making structure, and the variety of governments within a metropolis allows the urban family to maximize their preferences by moving to the area of their choice, complete with its ‘package’ of governments, services and taxes. Furthermore, this division of power fits in with generally held American beliefs in pluralism and individualism and hostility to concentrations of government power.[49] Yet the fact remains that a local government system divided within itself is highly detrimental to the needs of the central city.

5: Sunbelt Cities and National Policy

Problems of cities can also be viewed in the context of national and international economic and social trends. With technological and industrial developments the optimum location for industrial expansion may change. The Southern and South Western states—the Sunbelt—have been the latest beneficiary of such change; the oil and petro-chemical industries, for example, have brought tremendous prosperity to such cities as Houston and Dallas. The Sunbelt has also become increasingly accessible to investors with the development of an efficient highway system, a highly developed trucking industry and the domestic air service. The environmental attraction of Sunbelt climate is evident (once air conditioning is available!), and the South has extra incentives for the employer, for land is relatively inexpensive, the cost of living low, and the trade unions weak. The incentives for relocation had existed for some time, but post-war developments have made re location profitable, at a time when investment decisions are increasingly made in terms of an international market.

These regional job shifts have especially harmed the old cities of the North East and North Central United States. Between 1970 and 1975 employment in the West grew by 30.1 per cent, and in the South by 35.8 per cent, while the North Central area had a growth rate of only 14.7 per cent, and the North East actually lost 0.6 per cent of its jobs. This trend is even more marked in manufacturing employment. The 1960s saw rapid growth in this sector in Southern and Western states while manufacturing employment in the North remained stable. In the early 1970s the United States lost almost one-and-a-half million manufacturing jobs all from the North East and North Central areas. Between 1965 and 1972 New York City lost nearly 16 per cent of its jobs and Philadelphia lost 17 per cent.[50] Thus the North Eastern cities have been dealt a double blow. New areas have been opened up to compete for new investment, and the manufacturing industries on which the old cities developed have recently gone into national decline. The new industries offer employment primarily to skilled and white-collar workers, therefore the older central cities suffer competition for their more affluent workers while being left with the unskilled, whose opportunities remain restricted to the declining manufacturing sector — and to a public-service sector contracting result of budgetary stringency.

These regional shifts are largely the result of corporate business decisions taken on a national or international level. Obviously local governments have no jurisdiction at such levels; only the federal government could possibly design policies aimed at balancing the national benefits of urban growth against the problems inherent in the regional distribution of that growth. Local governments are in competition for those benefits, and have little incentive to co-operate with each other as each aims to maximize its tax base and minimize its problems. Only at the federal level could one expect to see the development of a national urban policy.

Comprehensive national policies covering any issue are not common in the United States, where each party’s Congressmen span a broad ideological spectrum and regional and constituency interests play a very large part in Congressional decision-making. Urban policy has proved to be no exception to this rule. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was not created until 1965, even though a majority of the United States population had lived in cities as early as 1920. Even now many programmes with an urban bias are not controlled by HUD but by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, Commerce, Labor and Transportation; the problem of co-ordinating federal policy still remains. The Housing and Urban Development Act of 1970 was amended in 1977 to require a biennial ‘National Urban Policy Report’, the first of which appeared in August 1978. This followed the publication in March 1978 of the report of President Carter’s Urban and Regional Policy Group, which was the first ever Executive statement of a national urban policy.[51]

The federal government has been giving financial aid to cities ever since the ]930s, but essentially in an ad hoc, unplanned way. This has commonly taken the form of categorical grants or block grants, which are awarded for use in more or less specified policy areas and may require the expenditure of local funds to qualify. In recent years there has been a shift of emphasis from categorical grants towards block grants, which allow greater local discretion in the use of funds, but there still exist over 600 categorical-grant programmes administered by thirty different federal departments and agencies. A new method of fund allocation—revenue-sharing—was introduced by the State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act in 1972, which authorized the distribution of money to state and local governments according to a fixed formula which takes account of population, local taxes and per capita income.[52] Allocations are made according to the formula, thereby avoiding the expense and complications of individual applications.

There remains a maze of regulations and requirements to be negotiated in order to qualify for the maximum available funds. This encourages ‘grantsmanship’ on the part of local governments, sometimes in an unfortunate way: federal qualifying criteria may encourage a local government to take decisions which are not in the best interests of the community, but which will produce the grant. The competing, overlapping, complex grant programmes are evidence Or Congressional unwillingness or inability to develop an overall urban fiscal policy. Revenue-sharing goes some way towards redistributing resources towards areas of need, but by imposing maxima and minima on the amounts available to each government, the central cities are not given fiscal benefits equivalent to the share of the social and economic problems which they suffer. Even so, many cities with high concentrations of social problems are kept out of bankruptcy only by heavy dependence on federal aid.[53]

Actions of the federal government have affected urban development in other important ways. While a federal urban policy has not been thought out, this does not mean that the policies of the United States government have not had certain tangible outcomes. Uncoordinated and separate policies designed to attack a wide cross-section of urban problems can be seen to have combined to provide an unintentional overall effect. For example, the interstate highway programme has provided financial incentives to local governments to construct highways; much tax-paying property was destroyed in order to build these roads, which themselves then facilitated the relocation of affluent home-owners and local industry outside city boundaries. Highway building could therefore reduce a city’s tax base while leaving the city with major maintenance expenses.[54]

Other federal programmes also have encouraged post-war suburban development at the expense of the inner cities. The Housing Acts of 1949 and 1954 are famous for their slum-clearance programmes; urban renewal was in fact only a small part of the national housing policy, and its effectiveness in providing low income housing has been seriously doubted.[55] At the same time in the early 1950s Congress actually reduced the public-housing authorization almost every year, while extending the ability of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to provide mortgage insurance. Besides releasing money into the economy for house purchase, the FHA aided large builders with credit facilities, channelling federal money into profit-making suburban developments and away from high-risk central city areas. The FHA policy of designating (or ‘redlining’) urban areas within which loans were considered too risky virtually ensured further decline, while federal income-tax deductions subsidizing home ownership provided further incentives for suburban developments.[56]

A similar ‘accidental’ national urban policy encouraged the development of the Sunbelt. Federal aid has been available for road construction and for the provision and expansion of such facilities as water and sewerage, encouraging the construction of an urban infrastructure in nonmetropolitan areas. A further federal stimulus to the Southern economy has been the injection of government spending, particularly on defence-related projects. Defence contracts in 1975 provided an average $188 per person in the Sunbelt on salaries alone, as opposed to $54 per person in the Northern industrial states. Military spending policies essentially result in a redistribution of federal tax dollars from the cities of the North East and North Central areas to the South and West; according to one newspaper, “. . . in 1977 the average family of four in New York sent the Pentagon $1,800 more than the Pentagon pumped back into the New York area. The figures for Chicago, Newark, Cleveland and Rochester were comparable.”[57]

The assertion that federal disbursement policies aid the Sunbelt unfairly is disputed by some,[58] but as long as the Sunbelt has the benefit of cheaper labour, lower taxes and less expensive land, then competitive bidding will automatically favour it, and federal purchasing, when based on the need to get value for money, will naturally benefit areas like it. Only with the introduction of an ‘equity factor’—a formal bias in favour of disadvantaged cities— into bureaucratic decision-making could such a situation be pre vented. Unless and until such intervention is put into effect, federal taxation and spending policies will take money from the economies of the North Eastern states while channelling it into the Sunbelt.[59]

The older cities are, of course, represented at the federal level because Congressmen have to lobby for the cities in their constituencies, but the federal government is nevertheless rarely pro-urban in outlook. For it to be so, there would have to be a high proportion of liberal Democrats in Congress and a Democratic President—a rare combination. A political division, cutting across party lines, exists between Congressmen of the Sunbelt and the Frost belt (that is, North Eastern and North Central states), and this works to the disadvantage of declining cities. Although in the House party affiliation still remains the most important predictor of a pro- or anti-urban stance, in the Senate regional cleavage has become as important as, sometimes more important than, party membership as an indicator of attitudes on urban policy. This is primarily due to the strong anti-urban stance of Southern Sunbelt Senators and pro-urban stance of Eastern Republicans.[60] The 1980 census will be followed by a redistribution of Congressional seats which will increase Sunbelt representation as adjustments are made for population changes since 1970. Should regional sectionalism grow as a motivating force on policy decisions, the declining North East and North Central cities will find that they have even fewer lobbyists at the federal level.

Current economic and political trends are therefore clearly exacerbating the problems of declining Northern cities, but the cities of the growth areas are not without their own problems. While suffering less from the problems of decline, old housing and out-of-date capital equipment, growth cities have other difficulties. Even in relatively affluent regions the inner-city areas are generally in a less favourable financial position than their surrounding suburbs. In the South, no less than elsewhere, much of the recent investment has gone into suburban areas on the fringes of cities, especially as the generally weak local governments and minimal land-use regulations have made them particularly attractive to developers.

Even though the overall picture in the Sunbelt is one of economic and social well-being, the benefits of economic and industrial development are unevenly distributed within the population, and patterns of social disadvantage mirror those found in the cities of the North. Disadvantaged ethnic minorities are again concentrated in the central cities, but in addition to blacks the South has large communities of Spanish origin; Miami’s Hispanic (primarily Cuban) community makes up almost half that city’s population, while in the South West Mexican Americans outnumber blacks by two to one. An investigation of the rate of subemployment in eighteen North Eastern and Sunbelt inner cities found the latter to be slightly worse off, mainly because of the higher proportion of Sunbelt workers receiving substandard incomes.[61]

Much of the commercial boosterism of the South and West has stressed the low tax rates and minimum of local-government regulation, but this in itself can produce problems. Firstly, low taxes can support only minimal public services, which hit the poor hardest; secondly, minimal regulation has led to ‘urban sprawl’. This is an exceedingly inefficient use of land, especially as the costs of energy continue to rise. Just as the nineteenth-century cities of the North have become obsolescent, so this new Sunbelt pattern of land use may prove to have its own built-in obsolescence.

A growing city has to provide some services, but when a sprawling and unplanned city tries to introduce or upgrade a public service the logistical problems faced are enormous and the costs very high. A study in Santa Barbara, California, examined the costs in terms of city taxes of various levels of population growth. It was found that, in the twenty years up to 1995, a policy of ‘no growth’ would entail a 10 per cent increase in per capita property taxes to maintain service standards, even disregarding inflation. To develop and maintain services catering for an increase in population from 73,000 to 119,000 in the same period, each individual’s property taxes would have to rise by 45 per cent, while the maximum growth envisaged, to 170,000 population, would put taxes up by 58 per cent.[62]

The current high rate of investment in the Sunbelt states cannot be expected to carry on for ever. The state and local governments of the growth areas have as little direct influence on industrial investment as do those governments in declining areas. As long as decisions on investment are made on a private-enterprise basis, then the area which offers the best return to the investor will be the area of growth. When the growth area becomes obsolescent, its economic vitality will suffer and new investment will be placed elsewhere. In the South and West the indications are that this would leave central cities in poverty, suffering social problems similar to those of the North; the disadvantaged urban population has benefited only marginally from Sunbelt growth, and service provision in the sprawling Sunbelt cities may become an even larger expense than in the North. The impact of the problem of growth and decline is suffered primarily by the central cities, in the South and West as elsewhere, as taxes rise to accommodate in-migrants, to pay for public services that decline in efficiency while increasing in cost, and to finance incentives to business investment .

In conclusion, it is clear that the causes of the problems located in cities and the potential remedies lie outside any individual city’s province. The visible difficulties of social and economic deprivation, fiscal stress, ungovernability, and regional and industrial decline are the consequences of a complex combination of political, social and economic factors. There is no reason to expect simple and easy solutions to present themselves. Many Americans value highly the pluralistic nature of their society, the disjointed decision-making structures in political and social institutions; national regulation and direction are often perceived as inflexible and potentially stultifying. However, uncoordinated decision-making by individuals and institutions can lead to in equities. Whatever the arguments as to the value of this pluralism for a nation’s economy in the long run, it is clear that city problems are to a great extent consequent upon this approach to decision-making. There is no reason to believe that the best interests of suburbs, states, the federal government, major industrial and investment bodies and other significant decision-makers will combine fortuitously to produce policies in the best interests of the central cities. To maintain the fiction that those symptoms of distress found in cities are problems generated by cities themselves is to blame the victim. If the causes of distress in cities are to be tackled effectively, the co-operation of these various bodies is needed, in order to find solutions where the problems originate.

6. Guide to Further Reading

Those who wish to pursue the study of the modern American city beyond the limits of this pamphlet must turn to a number of disciplines. History explains the origins of many contemporary phenomena: Alexander B. Callow, Jr., ed., American Urban History, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973) and Zane L. Miller, The Urbanization of Modern America (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973) both provide good, brief introductions to the subject. Geography also provides useful explanations of urban development, as for example in A. Pred, “Industrialization, Initial Advantage and American Metropolitan Growth”, Geographical Review, 55 (1965), 158-85, and J.R. Borchert, “American Metropolitan Evolution”, (1967).5 Another brief but useful introduction to the historical-geography approach is H.B. Rodgers, “A Profile of the American City”, in Dennis Welland, ed., The United States: A Companion to American Studies (London: Methuen, 1974), pp. 119-51.

Many aspects of contemporary urban politics, both in structure and style, can be traced to the ‘machine versus reform’ battles of the early twentieth century. The character of Progressive reform is analysed in J.A. Thompson, Progressivism (1979), the second pamphlet in this series, while the heritage of these years is discussed in Otis A. Pease, “Urban Reformers in the Progressive Era: A Reassessment”, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, 62 ( 19 61),49 -58. Of course, Progressive reform did not sweep away the political machine completely. The adaptation and survival of machine politics in Kansas City is the subject of Lyle W. Dorsett, The Pendergast Machine (New York: Oxford UP, 1968), while the second edition of Harold F. Gosnell, Machine Politics: Chicago Model (Chicago: Chicago UP, 1968) includes a Foreword by T.J. Lowi which draws comparisons between Gosnell’s original 1937 study and New York in the late 1960s. For the most commonly cited modern example of machine politics, see also Michael Royko, Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1971) and Len O’Connor, Clout: Mayor Daley and his City (New York: Avon Books,1975).

Leadership in other cities has been treated in a variety of ways. The works of Floyd Hunter, Community Power Structure (Chapel Hill: North Carolina UP, 1953), and Robert Dahl, Who Governs? (New Haven, Conn.: Yale UP, 1961), have perhaps done most to stimulate a continuing debate about the distribution of power in cities. Peter Bachrach and Morton Baratz, Power and Poverty: Theory and Practice (New York: Oxford UP, 1970), is based on a study of Baltimore and contains especially important essays on the concepts of “nondecisions” and “the corridor of power”. Edward C. Hayes, Power Structure and Urban Policy: Who Rules in Oakland? (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1972), and Chester Hartman, Yerba Buena: Land Grab and Community Resistance in San Francisco (San Francisco: Glide Publications, 1974), both relate studies of power to the politics of urban development, a topic also covered in J.H. Mollenkopf, “The Post War Politics of Urban Development”, Politics and Society, 5 (1975-6), 247-96. A “revisionist theory” of community politics is developed in Clarence N. Stone, Economic Growth and Neighborhood Discontent: System Bias in the Urban Renewal Program of Atlanta (Chapel Hill: North Carolina UP, 1976), a study which is made all the more interesting by being set in the same city as Hunter’s original work.

The study of community power has always been concerned with the responsiveness of governments to different groups in society. In recent years such studies have increasingly been concerned with the efforts of the poor and racial minorities to influence urban policy. Saul Alinsky was an early advocate of organizing the poor, and two books, John H. Fish, Black Power/ White Control (Princeton, NJ.: Princeton UP, 1973) and Robert Bailey, Jr., Radicals in Urban Politics: The Alinsky Approach (Chicago UP, 1974), give an excellent insight into his work. Norman I. and Susan Fainstein, Urban Political Movements: The Search for Power by Minority Groups in American Cities (Englewood Cliffs, N J.: Prentice Hall, 1974), and Charles H. Levine Racial Conflict and the American Mayor (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1974), are concerned with the role of minorities in urban politics. Joel D. Aberbach and Jack L. Walker, in Race in the City: Political Trust and Public Policy in the New Urban System (Boston: Little, Brown, 1973), contend that a general lack of public confidence in the fairness of the governmental process undermines any policy directed against racial discrimination. A major theoretical work on racial groups in cities is J. David Greenstone and Paul E. Peterson, Race and Authority in Urban Politics (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1973). In “The Future of Community Control”, American Political Science Review, 70 (1976), 905-23, the Fainsteins investigate the possibility that community control is a moderate and co-optative strategy which undermines efforts to gain larger redistributive changes.

The connections between race and poverty are thoroughly examined in Raymond S. Franklin and Solomon Resnick, The Political Economy of Racism (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973), an impressive analysis which is well supplemented by Charles Sackrey, The Political Economy of Urban Poverty (New York: W.W. Norton, 1973), and Bradley Schiller, The Economics of Poverty and Discrimination (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1973). In Blaming the Victim (New York: Vintage Books, 1971), William Ryan attacks prevailing analyses of poverty and directions of anti-poverty policy, as do the various contributors to Pamela Roby, ed., The Poverty Establishment (Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice Hall,1974).

The other political and social problems concentrated in cities each deserve a separate and lengthy bibliography, but good introductions to a variety of topics are now available in the form of edited collections of essays. Willis D. Hawley et al., Theoretical Perspectives on Urban Politics (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1976), contains some particularly thought-provoking essays, and David M. Gordon, ed., Problems in Political Economy: An Urban Perspective, 2nd edn. (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath, 1977), provides a very good collection from a wide variety of sources, with valuable commentaries by the editor. Together with William Gorham and Nathan Glazer, eds., The Urban Predicament (1976)24 and William Tabb and Larry Sawers, eds., Marxism in the Metropolis (1978)37, these collections cover such topics as urban transportation, housing, education, crime, development policies, finance, employment, health, bureaucracy and government structure. A conservative analysis of urban problems is given by Edward Banfield in The Unheavenly City Revisited (Boston: Little, Brown, 1974), a revision of his The Unheavenly City: The Nature and Future of Our Urban Crisis (1970), which had helped prompt Norton E. Long’s The Unwalled City (New York: Basic Books, 1972) and Douglas Yates’ The Ungovernable City (Cam bridge, Mass.: MIT Press,1977).

Among the books on individual topics the following are very worthwhile: Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1976); Chester W. Hartman, Housing and Social Policy (Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice Hall,1975); K.H. Schaeffer and Elliott Sclar, Access for All (New York: Penguin Books, 1975) on transportation policy; Kenneth J. Neubeck, Corporate Response to the Urban Crisis (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1974) and Neil Chamberlain, The Limits of Corporate Responsibility (New York: Basic Books 1973); Charles H. Levine, ed ., Managing Human Resources: A Challenge to Urban Governments (Beverley Hills: Sage Publications, 1977); Herbert Jacob, Urban Justice: Law and Order in American Cities (Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice Hall, 1973).

Recent trends in population shifts and changing intergovernmental relations are to some extent connected, and some of the literature on suburbanization, urban-federal relations, and the growth of the Sunbelt deals with these trends. The move to the suburbs is perhaps best covered. There is a good collection of essays in Louis K. Masotti and J.K. Hadden, eds., The Urbanization of the Suburbs (Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1973). Bennett Berger’s Working Class Suburb (Berkeley: California UP 1968) is a case study of blue-collar suburbanization. The political autonomy of suburbs, and its use to govern land use and especially to exclude minorities and the poor, is examined in Michael Danielson’s The Politics of Exclusion (1976)41. The position of those members of one minority group who are in the suburbs is the subject of Black Suburbanization (Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger, 1976) by Harold M. Rose.

Wider intergovernmental relations are the subject of Mark Gelfand’s A Nation of Cities, 1933-1965 (1975)56 and Roscoe C. Martin, The Cities and the Federal System (1965; rept., New York: Arno Press, 1978), while more recent developments in federal-local relations are covered in David Caputo and Richard Cole, Urban Politics and Decentralization: General Revenue Sharing, (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1974). The interest in suburban-central city relationships has perhaps led to a neglect of post-war population movements towards the South and West, but two good collections are those edited by George Sternlieb and James W. Hughes, Post-Industrial America: Metropolitan Decline and Inter-Regional Job Shifts (New Brunswick, N.J.: Center for Urban Policy Research, 1975), and by David Perry and Alfred Watkins, The Rise of the Sunbelt Cities (1977).59

Statistical evidence on past, present and possible future trends is provided in an extraordinary number of publications by the United States government, especially the Bureau of the Census. Apart from the annual Statistical Abstract of the United States there are publications dealing more particularly with racial and ethnic groups, regions, and various levels of government. The United States Government Printing Office can supply a comprehensive Directory of Federal Statistics for Local Areas: A Guide to Sources (Washington, D.C., 1978) which is an invaluable guide to available statistics.

7. Notes

  1. New York Times, 28 Aug. 1977,pp.1,41. Back
  2. Saturday Review, Aug. 1978, pp.16-21. Back
  3. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, The President’s Urban and Regional Policy Group Report: A New Partnership to Conserve America’s Communities: A National Urban Policy (Washington, D.C., 1978). Back
  4. There is some imprecision in these categories because SMSAs are defined by county boundaries, and they therefore sometimes include rural areas beyond what might reasonably be considered suburban. As a result, SMSAs frequently exaggerate the type of urban areas, especially in states like Nevada, Arizona and Southern California where the counties are very large, as the back cover of this pamphlet shows. However, most available statistics relating to cities are based on these census definitions. For a more detailed discussion, see U.S. Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1979, 100th Edition (Washington, D.C., 1979), pp.935-37. Back
  5. John R. Borchert, “American Metropolitan Evolution”, Geographical Review, 57 (1967), 301-32. Back
  6. Commission on the Future of the South, Report (Research Triangle Park, N.C.: Southern Policies Growth Board, 1974), esp. pp.20-31. Back
  7. Harold M. Baron, The Demand for Black Labor (Somerville, Mass.: New England Free Press, 1971); Alan Brown and Egon Neuberger, eds., Internal Migration (New York: Academic Press, 1977), 147-82; Niles M. Hansen, Rural Poverty and the Urban Crisis (Bloomington: Indiana UP,1970). Back
  8. L.H. Long, “How the Racial Composition of Cities Changes”, Land Economics, 51 (1975), 258-67. Back
  9. Statistical Abstract, 1979 pp. 17, 33. The percentage distribution of the Spanish population is for families, not individuals. Persons of Spanish origin may be of either race and therefore included in the previous two columns. Figures on the table may not add to total because of rounding. Back
  10. National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, Report (New York: Bantam, 1968),pp.143-50. Back
  11. Statistical Abstract, 1979, pp.462-63. Back
  12. Ibid., p.462. Back
  13. Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1977, 98th ed., pp.453; Statistical Abstract, 1979, pp.448,461. Back
  14. James N. Morgan and Greg J. Duncan, eds., Five Thousand Families—Patterns of Economic Progress, 7 vols. (Ann Arbor: Michigan Institute for Social Research, 1979), vol.6, ch. 8. Back
  15. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Social and Economic Characteristics of the Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Population: 1977 and 1970 (Washington, D.C., 1978), pp.64-71. Back
  16. There are many people, especially blacks, who because of disability or repeated discouragement have ceased to look for work and so do not register as unemployed. The official unemployment figures therefore do not include these people who have withdrawn from the potential labour force. Back
  17. Social and Economic Characteristics, p.15. Back
  18. Joseph T. Howell, Hard Living on Clay Street: Portraits of Blue Collar Families (Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1973). Other studies which use personal reportage of city life are: William Whyte, Street Corner Society (Chicago: Chicago UP, 1952); Elliott Liebow, Tally’s Corner (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967); Gerald Suttles, The Social Order of the Slum (Chicago: Chicago UP, 1968); Todd Gitlin and Nanci Hollander, Uptown: Poor Whites in Chicago (New York: Harper and Row, 1970); Studs Terkel, Working (New York: Avon Books, 1975). Back
  19. Quoted in Marian Lief Palley and Howard A. Palley, Urban America and Public Policies (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath, 1977), p.192. Back
  20. Statistical Abstract, 1979, p.345. Back
  21. Gary A. Tobin, ed., The Changing Structure of the City (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1979), pp.233-40. Back
  22. Journal of the American Planning Association, 45 (1979), special issue on Gentrification. Back
  23. Tobin, pp.157-75. Back
  24. William Gorham and Nathan Glazer, eds., The Urban Predicament (Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute, 1976), pp.231-80. Back
  25. New York Times, 28 Aug. 1977,pp.1, 34, 41. Back
  26. Statistical Abstract, 1979, pp.180-81. Back
  27. Clarence N. Stone, Robert K. Whelan and William J . Murin, Urban Policy and Politics in a Bureaucratic Age (Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice-Hall, 1979), p.297. Back
  28. U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, Improving Urban America: A Challenge to Federalism (Washington, D.C., 1976), and idem, City Financial Emergencies: The Intergovernmental Dimension (Washington, D.C., 1973). Back
  29. Daniel R. Grant and Herman C. Nixon, State and Local Government in America, 3rd ed. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1975), p.396. Back
  30. R.L. Lineberry and E.P. Fowler, “Reformism and Public Policy in American Cities”, American Political Science Review, 61 (1967), 701-16; T.R. Dye and J.A. Garcia, “Structure, Function and Policy in American Cities”, Urban Affairs Quarterly, 14 (1978), 103-22; Demetrios Caraley, City Governments and Urban Problems (Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice Hall, 1977), pp.3-7. Back
  31. Herbert Kohler, Economics and Urban Problems (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath , 1973), p. 420. Back
  32. Arnold J. Meltsner, The Politics of City Revenue (Berkeley: California UP, 1971); see also Jeffrey L. Pressman, Federal Programs and City Politics: The Dynamics of the Aid Process in Oakland (Berkeley: California UP, 1975). Back
  33. James M. Maxwell and J. Richard Aronson, Financing State and Local Governments, 3rd ed. (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1977), pp.11, 196. Back
  34. Statistical Abstract, 1979, pp.307, 310. Back
  35. ACIR, Improving Urban America, p.63. Back
  36. U.S. Congressional Budget Office, New York City’s Fiscal Problem (Washington, D.C., 1975), pp.11-13. Back
  37. International Herald Tribune, 2 May 1979. See also William K. Tabb and Larry Sawers, eds., Marxism in the Metropolis (New York: Oxford UP, 1978), pp.241-66. Back
  38. ACIR, Improving Urban America, pp.143, 145. Back
  39. Ibid, p.147. Back
  40. Ibid., p.150. Back
  41. Kohler, Economics and Urban Problems, p.287; see also Michael N. Danielson, The Politics of Exclusion (New York: Columbia UP, 1976). Back
  42. Howard W. Hallman, Small and Large Together: Governing the Metropolis (Beverly Hills, Cal.: Sage, 1977). Back
  43. G. Sternlieb and J.W. Hughes, “New Regional and Metropolitan Realities of America”, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 43 (1977), 227-41; Social and Economic Characteristics, pp.50-53. Back
  44. Edward C. Banfield, ed., Urban Government (New York: Free Press 1969), p.154. Back
  45. Hallman, pp.81 ff.; for discussion of an alternative to consolidation, see A. Reschovsky and E. Knoff, “Tax Base Sharing: An Assessment of the Minnesota Experience”, Journal of the American Institute of Planners 43 (1977), 361-70. Back
  46. Hallman, p.34. Back
  47. See C.V. Hamilton, “Blacks and Electoral Politics”, Social Policy, (May/June 1978), 21-27; T.P. Murphy, “Race-Base Accounting: Assigning the Costs and Benefits of a Racially Motivated Annexation”, Urban Affairs Quarterly, 14 (1978), 169-94. Back
  48. Parris N. Glendening and Mavis Mann Reeves, Pragmatic Federalism (Pacific Palisades, Cal.: Palisades Publishers, 1977), pp.247-49. Back
  49. K. Newton, “American Urban Politics: Social Class, Political Structure and Public Goods”, Urban Affairs Quarterly, 11 ( 19 75), 241-64. Back
  50. Sternlieb and Hughes, p.231; Tabb and Sawers, eds., Marxism in the Metropolis, p.247. Back
  51. See n. 3 above. Back
  52. Robert P. Inman et. al., Financing the New Federalism: Revenue Sharing, Conditional Grants, and Taxation (Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 1975). Back
  53. Economics Department, The First National Bank of Boston and Touche Ross and Co., Urban Fiscal Stress: A Comparative Analysis of Sixty-Six U.S. Cities (New York: Touche Ross and Co., 1979). Back
  54. Caraley, City Governments and Urban Problems, p.138. Back
  55. For example, see the analysis of urban renewal given in Martin Anderson, The Federal Bulldozer (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1964). Back
  56. B. Checkoway, “Large Builders, Federal Housing Programs, and Postwar Suburbanization”, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 4 (1980), 21-45; Mark I. Gelfand, A Nation of Cities: The Federal Government and Urban America (New York: Oxford UP,1975); Thomas P. Murphy and John Rehfuss, Urban Politics in the Suburban Era (Homewood, III.: Dorsey Press, 1976), pp.7-27. Back
  57. E. Blaine Liner and Lawrence K. Lynch, eds., The Economics of Southern Growth (Research Triangle Park, N.C.: Southern Growth Policies Board, 1977), pp.131-73; International Herald Tribune, 19 Mar. 1979, p.16. Back
  58. For example, see the essays in Liner and Lynch, eds. Back
  59. David C. Perry and Alfred J . Watkins, eds., The Rise of the Sunbelt Cities (Beverly Hills,Cal.:Sage,1977), p.50. See also W.P. Beaton and J.L. Cox with R.M. Morris, “Toward an Accidental National Urbanization Policy”, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, 43 (1977), 54-61. Back
  60. D. Caraley, “Congressional Politics and Urban Aid”, Political Science Quarterly, 91 (1976), 19-45; and “Congressional Politics and Urban Aid: A 1978 Postscript”, ibid., 93 (1978), 411-19. Back
  61. Perry and Watkins, eds., p.296. The subemployed include those registered as unemployed, those unemployed people who have stopped looking for work and are not registered as unemployed, part-time workers who would like full-time jobs, and workers who earn substandard wages and live below or near the poverty line. Back
  62. Richard P. Appelbaum et. al., The Effects of Urban Growth: A Population Impact Analysis (New York: Praeger, 1976), pp.314-15. Back


Following the 1980 census, seventeen House districts (and Presidential Electoral College votes) have shifted from the Northeast and Midwest to states in the South and West – New York suffering the largest loss (5 seats) while the biggest gains went to Texas (3) and Florida (4). This follows a similar regional shift of eighteen seats between 1950 and 1970, and population projections suggest a further fifteen seats might move the same way in the next two decades (cf. p.37). As national political power has shifted a little further to the Sunbelt, so one Sunbelt state has moved a little more into mainstream politics: Arizona finally joined all the other states participating in the Medicaid programme on 1st October 1982, seventeen years after the programme began, having developed a competitive health scheme approved by the Reagan administration. Even in this very conservative state, the financial burden on county governments of providing indigent health care proved too much to hold out further against ‘socialized’ medicine (cf. p.14). Regional urban and industrial change are examined in a most interesting and thoughtful way in two recent books: Carl Abbott, The New Urban America: Growth and Politics in Sunbelt Cities (Chapel Hill: North Carolina UP,1981), and B. Bluestone & B. Harrison, The Deindustrialization of America (New York: Basic, 1982).

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