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Is the "Invisible Hand" Biased? Metropolitan Fragmentation and Individual Choice

Miller, Gary J. (1977) Is the "Invisible Hand" Biased? Metropolitan Fragmentation and Individual Choice. Social Science Working Paper, 160. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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Despite the fact that "efficiency" has dominated the discussion of metropolitan government (Greer, 1963:12), it is the position of this paper that efficiency is fundamentally irrelevant to an analysis of the politics of metropolitan organization. This is the case because institutional arrangements are so closely tied to the distribution of resources that a change in institutional arrangements inevitably has a redistributional (and thus political) bias. While the "ideal" arrangement of local governments may include a system of fragmented neighborhood governments, in the immediate reality of American government, a move to either consolidate or de-centralize metropolitan government could never be a universally beneficial move. There is no efficiency dividend. For this reason, efficiency arguments for and against fragmentation are pointless, and obscure the relevant political question: who shall and should be helped, and who hurt, by changes in urban institutions? Who should get more and who less?

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Additional Information:Because the purpose of this paper is not primarily to review the traditional urban reform position, this position was only briefly stated, and no doubt somewhat distorted. For a more complete statement of the traditional urban reform position, see Haar (1972), Lineberry (1970), and the Committee for Economic Development (1966, 1972). I would like to thank Joe Oppenheimer for his unstinting advice and criticism during early analysis of this problem.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:160
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20171025-142806871
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:82671
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:25 Oct 2017 21:58
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:57

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