Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Voluntary amalgamation of local governments: the Swiss debate in the European context


Author Info


The debate about the amalgamation of local government units stems from the fact that their political borders (the institutional territory) do no longer coincide with the functional territory required for an efficient provision of most local public services. And both do not correspond with the relational territory which arises out of the private and professional activities of LGUs' residents as they commute daily or periodically for work, shopping and leisure. The core question of this paper is how to reform the institutional and functional territories in such a way that public services are delivered efficiently, according to local preferences and in a way that responds to the needs expressed in the larger relational territory. The paper is divided in six sections. Section one summarizes the debate about LGUs' amalgamation in the Swiss context. Section two tackles the fundamental problem: if too many LGUs are too small, when is small too small and why? Horizontal cooperation is one possible solution, but it creates serious problems in terms of principal-agent, democracy, information asymmetry and moral hazard, explained in Section 3. Section 4 presents the core concept of “noyaux durs” which is one of the effective approaches to LGUs amalgamation. Section 5 details the cantonal financial incentives that are needed to encourage voluntary amalgamation, besides a cantonal planning strategy and technical help in the process of amalgamation. Section 6 concludes with some notes on the performance of the system.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL:,44,2,20120514120917-OV/WP_SES_426.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Freiburg/Fribourg Switzerland in its series FSES Working Papers with number 426.

as in new window
Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: 14 May 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fri:fribow:fribow00426

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Bd de Pérolles 90, CH-1700 Fribourg
Phone: +41 26 300 8200
Fax: +41 26 300 9725
Web page:
More information through EDIRC

Order Information:

Related research

Keywords: amalgamation of communes; local government; merger; noyaux fort; participative democracy; principal-agent; size of communes; territorial organization; voluntary versus compulsory amalgamation of communes;

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Dafflon, Bernard, 2010. "Local Fiscal Equalization: a New Proposal and an Experiment," FSES Working Papers, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Freiburg/Fribourg Switzerland 418, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Freiburg/Fribourg Switzerland.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


Blog mentions

As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    by Santiago Lago Peñas in Res Publica on 2012-09-09 14:54:23
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Janne Tukiainen & Tuukka Saarimaa, 2013. "Common Pool Problems in Voluntary Municipal Mergers," Working Papers, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT) 53, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).


This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


Access and download statistics


When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fri:fribow:fribow00426. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ivo raemy).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.