The Risks of Intuition: Size, Costs and Economies of Scale in Local Government
Extensive international research surrounds the optimal size of local government and associated issues of amalgamations and economies of scale in local government. Given recent structural reforms of Irish local government, this paper examines both the theoretical debates on these issues and the international experience with local authority mergers in several countries, highlighting the rationale for and some of the reported effects of mergers. It also assesses the relationship between size and expenditure/service levels in Irish local government, drawing on available data. Contrary perhaps to popular belief, county and city councils, the primary units of local government in Ireland, are already very large by international standards. Overall, the research suggests a weak link between size and costs, and that local authority mergers may have limited intrinsic efficiency value and can involve considerable transitional costs. Most local authority services appear to possess limited economies of scale, the main exceptions being specialised services, the production costs of capital-intensive services, and some administrative overheads and "back office" functions.
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.:
- Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416-416.
- Michael Chisholm, 2010. "Emerging realities of local government reorganization," Public Money & Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(3), pages 143-150, May.
- Howard Elcock & John Fenwick & Janice McMillan, 2010. "The reorganization addiction in local government: unitary councils for England," Public Money & Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(6), pages 331-338, November.
- D N King, 1994. "A Model of Optimum Local Authority Size," Working Papers Series 94/1, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
- David N King & Yue Ma, 2000.
"Local authority size in theory and practice,"
Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy,
Pion Ltd, London, vol. 18(3), pages 255-270, June.
- David N King & Yue Ma, 2000. "Local Authority Size in Theory and Practice," Environment and Planning C, , vol. 18(3), pages 255-270, June.
- Christopher Pollitt, 2009. "Structural change and public service performance: international lessons?," Public Money & Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(5), pages 285-291, September.
- Special Group on Public Service Numbers & Colm McCarthy & Donal McNally & Pat McLaughlin & Maurice O'Connell & William Slattery & Mary Walsh, 2009. "Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes," Open Access publications 10197/1257, School of Economics, University College Dublin. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eso:journl:v:45:y:2014:i:3:p:371-403. 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: (Martina Lawless)
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.