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The Impact of Population Density on Municipal Government Expenditures


  • Randall G. Holcombe

    (Florida State University, Tallahassee)

  • DeEdgra W. Williams

    (Florida A&M University, Tallahassee)


Data from 487 municipal governments with populations greater than 50,000 are examined to see the relationship between population density and per capita government expenditures. There is no statistically significant relationship between per capita total government expenditures and operational expenditures for cities smaller than 500,000, and for larger cities, higher population density is associated with higher per capita government expenditures. Infrastructure expenditures tend to decline with increases in population density for cities smaller than 500,000, whereas expenditures on services tend to increase with population density for cities larger than 500,000. The relationship between per capita total expenditures and population density has policy relevance because it indicates that when all government expenditures are taken into account, policies that increase population density will not reduce per capita government expenditures and, in larger cities, will lead to higher per capita government expenditures.

Suggested Citation

  • Randall G. Holcombe & DeEdgra W. Williams, 2008. "The Impact of Population Density on Municipal Government Expenditures," Public Finance Review, , vol. 36(3), pages 359-373, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:pubfin:v:36:y:2008:i:3:p:359-373

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    Cited by:

    1. Joseph Drew & Brian Dollery, 2016. "A Factor Analytic Assessment of Financial Sustainability: The Case of New South Wales Local Government," Australian Accounting Review, CPA Australia, vol. 26(2), pages 132-140, June.
    2. repec:bla:pbudge:v:37:y:2017:i:1:p:112-134 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:spacre:v:16:y:2013:i:1:p:46-52 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Nora Ruth Libertun de Duren & Roberto Guerrero Compeán, 2015. "Growing Resources for Growing Cities: Density and the Cost of Municipal Public Services in Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and Mexico," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 7332, Inter-American Development Bank.
    5. Christopher T. Boyko & Rachel Cooper, 2013. "Density and Decision-Making: Findings from an Online Survey," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(10), pages 1-21, October.


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