Skip to content

Does the Number Matter? On Governments and Regional Economic Growth

Join us here on Aug. 21 at 6:30 p.m. for a livestream of this event, Does the Number Matter? On Governments and Regional Economic Growth

Keynote Presentation by Charles S. Gascon

Across the country, metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) have multiple local government jurisdictions. For example, within the St. Louis MSA, the city of St. Louis is served by one government entity, while St. Louis County has more than 80 local governments.

Regional economist Charles S. Gascon will explore:

  • How regional economic growth might be impacted by the number of governments in a particular MSA.
  • If there’s an “optimal” size of a local government.
  • What research might tell us about the St. Louis region.

On one hand, economic theory suggests if local governments compete to attract and retain residents and businesses, this would lead to the most efficient outcomes. Governments would compete to design optimal tax, spending and regulatory policies that would match residents’ desires. In turn, such policies would produce the best environment for growth.

On the other hand, the public goods local governments provide—such as parks, roads, utilities or public safety—can exhibit increasing returns to scale. Competition for tax revenues may create coordination problems toward regional goals. In this case, regional consolidation of governments might reduce the cost of providing services, improve coordination and stimulate faster growth.

A panel discussion and audience Q&A will follow Gascon’s presentation.