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Center for Economics and the Environment: Policy Series


This report provides an analysis and evaluation of the proposed city-county consolidation in St. Louis. The report draws upon theoretical research considering the impact of local government consolidations on efficiency, equity, spillovers, and development. Where possible, we connect the ideas from the academic literature to arguments made regarding the situation in St. Louis. After exploring both the theoretical reasons for and against consolidation, we consider the real-world empirical evidence. Although city-county consolidations sometimes lead to positive outcomes, often they do not. Importantly, the context of consolidation matters. By understanding the importance of context with consolidations, we conclude with five lessons for citizens and policymakers in St. Louis drawn from our understanding of the relevant research. Although there are local government problems in St. Louis, city-county consolidation is not necessarily the only or best way forward.

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Joshua Hall is a professor of economics at West Virginia University. Josh Matti is a PhD candidate in economics at West Virginia University.

This study was made possible with funding from the Hammond Institute's Center for Economics and the Environment.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.