The Impact of Decentralization on Municipalities: Evidence from the Municipal Home Rule Movement

  • Jessica HennesseyEmail author
Part of the Studies in Public Choice book series (SIPC, volume 39)


The municipal home rule movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries decentralized control from the state and gave municipalities the ability to independently draft and adopt a municipal charter. Since not all states adopted home rule, and not all states that adopted home rule did it at the same time, the natural episode presents a rich ground for empirical study. There are several avenues on which to explore the effect of decentralization on outcomes. Previous research has considered the effect of decentralization on expenditures or on types of services provided. In the case of home rule, did the ability for municipalities to write their own charters and determine their own structure and functions result in different outcomes relative to municipalities who were not given the option? As much of the research in fiscal federalism deals with decentralization at the federal level, this paper serves as a nice complement as it investigates decentralization at a sub-national level and thus holds constant important country-level variables. Preliminary evidence seems to indicate that home rule had an effect both on municipal debt and on the composition of the municipal population.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Furman UniversityGreenvilleUSA

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