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These generalizations about region and metropolitan size must be further modified by considering population dispersal and relative size of the nonwhite population. Disparities in all regions and size groups tend to be exaggerated in metropolitan areas where a high proportion of the total population lives outside the central city. While central cities are more likely to contain disadvantaged groups of the population, suburbs in highly suburbanized metropolitan areas, rather than being wealthy as in the large and Northeastern SMSA's, are likely to represent the large middle class. Where nonwhites constitute an important element of the total metropolitan population, the classic disparity pattern occurs in the North, but in the South and West the pattern runs the other way-high socioeconomic status in the cities and lower status outside.

In addition to modifying the simplified notion of uniformly low socioeconomic status in the cities and high status in the suburbs, the analysis demonstrates a lack of significant central city-suburban disparity in some unexpected cases. One of the most surprising findings has to do with education. On the whole, cities and suburbs show little difference in the proportion of their adult populations with less than 4 years of high school-an inadequate education by today's standards or in their high school dropout rates. Undereducation of youth and adults is an equally serious problem in both urban and suburban segments of most metropolitan areas.

Significant central city suburban differences may be summarized by a series of successively, modified lists, presented according to metropolitan area characteristics: Central city proportion Equivalent proportions Suburban higher higher

In SMSA's in general, all regions and sizes Elderly; unrelated individ- Ages 10 to 44 total and Young children; migrants,

uals; broken families with nonwhite; nonwhite total and nonwhite; famchildren; clerical and craftsmen; educa- ilies with children; craftssales workers; household tion; dropouts.

men; upper middle rentand service, total and

tals; commuters; highnonwhite; working wives;

est nonwhite housing unemployed; nonwhite

values (except South). movers; nonwhites.

In addition to the above, in large SMSA's in all regions Nonwhite clerical and sales;

Upper middle nonwhite unsound rentals; low in

housing values; highest

rentals. In small SMSA's, all regions College graduates: profes- Movers, between 1955– Undereducated; operatives; Significant economic and social disparities do indeed exist among central cities and suburban communities. However, these disparities vary from region to region and from one metropolitan area to another.

sional and technical; man- 60; nonwhite clerical middle income; unsound agers; household and serv- and sales; unem- rentals. ice, total and nonwhite; ployment; highest income over $8,000; high- rents. est housing values; upper middle nonwhite housing

values. In SMSA's with a high percentage of nonwhites, irrespective of region, size, or

population dispersal Nonwhite age 30 to 44; non

Families with

children; white movers; broken

craftsmen; migrants. families with children; household and service workers; unemployed. 6 Reference is to total population unless the characteristic is prefixed by "non white."


Almost everywhere the proportion of nonwhites in the central city is higher than in the suburbs, and the most striking central citysuburban differentials, outside the South, are found where nonwhites are concentrated. Likewise, proportions of elderly persons and broken families with children are much larger in the central city than in the suburbs.

This statistical analysis of central cities and suburbs reveals that population components are similar in many more respects than casual observation indicates. The important differences vary primarily according to metropolitan area size, regional location, and extent of suburbanization. There is a definite community of interest between central cities and suburbs where they share an equivalent burden of social problems, as in the case of high school dropouts. On the other hand, other problems, such as education for poor nonwhites, are primarily the concern of central cities in the North and the suburbs in the South and West. Finally, some issues are primarily suburban in their impact, such as substandard, owner-occupied housing.


The distribution of different groups of people tends to divide metropolitan areas into many subcommunities with distinct social and economic characteristics. Cutting across this division into social groupings is another network that also divides metropolitan areas into many small and separate units: the pattern of local government. The public business of metropolitan America is carried on by a myriad of governments—cities and towns, counties, school districts, and special districts responsible for such diverse functions as fire protection, utility service, port development, and even cemetery management. And the current trend in metropolitan areas is toward still greater proliferation of local governments.

The 1962 Census of Governments enumerated 18,442 independent governmental units within the 212 metropolitan areas. Table 6 summarizes 1962 data on local governments, by type, within and outside of metropolitan areas.

The average number of independent units of government per metropolitan area is 87. This average covers a wide range, from 24

TABLE 6.Distribution of local governments, 1962

Type of government

States, total



Percent in

91, 186

18, 442

72, 744

20. 2

34, 678
56, 508

6, 004
12, 438

28, 674 44, 070

17.3 22.0

An local governments.

School districts.

Special districts.

17, 142
18, 323

310 4,144 2, 573 5, 411

2, 733 13,856 14, 569 12, 912

10. 2 23.0 15. 0 29.5

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census of Governments: 1962, vol. V,"Local Government in Metropolitan Areas," p. 2.

for SMSA's of less than 100,000 population up to 301 for SMSA's of a million or more. The Chicago metropolitan area leads the Nation with 1,060 local governments. Metropolitan areas, with 23 percent of the Nation's municipalities, contain all cities of 50,000 or more and over half of those with 25,000–50,000 population. Yet half of the municipalities within SMSA's contain fewer than 2,500 people each, and 25 percent of SMSA populations live outside municipalities.

Contrary to a downward national trend in the number of local governments, local units in metropolitan areas increased by 3 percent between 1957 and 1962. Metropolitan areas are leading the rest of the country in municipal incorporations and establishment of special districts, and lagging behind in the reduction of school districts.

Residents of metropolitan areas are typically served by more layers of overlapping local governments than people outside metropolitan areas. The number of municipalities in metropolitan areas increased by 8 percent between 1957 and 1962, compared with 4.5 percent for the country as a whole. This difference results, in large part, from the more rapid growth of population in SMSA's and the concentration of whole new settlements in suburban areas. Changes in the numbers of local governments in SMSA's between 1957 and 1962 are shown in table 7 and figure 2.

Because the 1962 Census of Governments reclassified special districts, it is not possible to determine how much of the dramatic national increase in these units occurred in SMSA's. Metropolitan areas account for 30 percent of all special districts, but they contain 51 percent of water supply districts and 61 percent of sewerage districts.

TABLE 7.-Changes in local government in metropolitan areas, 1957–62

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1 Less than 0.5 percent.
2 Including some types of entities not formerly subject to classification as independent governmental units.

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Census of Governments: 1962, vol. V, “Local Government in Metro-
politan Areas," p. 2.

Reduction in school districts has been taking place at a slower rate in metropolitan areas than in the rest of the country—20 percent between 1957 and 1962, compared with 31 percent in the Nation. This lag reflects the fact that all the reduction took place in districts which enrolled fewer than 600 pupils, and only a small proportion of these are in metropolitan areas. By far the greatest increase in school districts, 81 percent between 1957 and 1962, is in the 12,000 to 25,000 pupil class, and virtually all these are in metropolitan areas.







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50,000- 100,000- 200.000- 300.000- 500,000- 1,000,000 99,999 199,999 299.999 499.999 999,999 OR MORE





(THE 212 SMSA'S AS DEFINED IN 1962) 20.000










Of the 6,600 school systems in metropolitan areas, however, 26 percent enroll fewer than 300 pupils and 14 percent are nonoperating. Thus, many small and inefficient school districts remain in metropolitan areas.

The significance of these trends is that local government in metropolitan areas is unbelievably complex and becoming more so. The typical metropolitan resident is a citizen of several overlapping governments which adopt and enforce laws, regulate activities, and provide services. Lines of responsibility for the public business are unclear, and coordination is difficult.

Tax RESOURCES AND GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES The concentration of wealth in metropolitan areas has already been noted, but it does not necessarily imply a situation of affluence for local governments within these areas. A basic question concerns the extent to which the economic resources of metropolitan areas are available to local units of government. A further question concerns differences in tax resources within metropolitan areas: Does the fine-grained division of metropolitan areas into many social and economic groupings and many small units of government result in a pattern of rich governments and impoverished governments side by side?

In the aggregate, governments in metropolitan areas appear relatively well to do in terms of the revenues they obtain, but the extent of variation within metropolitan areas is difficult to determine. Studies of metropolitan finance have rarely been based on comprehensive surveys of metropolitan areas and, until the 1957 Census of Governments, comparative analyses were not possible. In addition to the unavailability of data, the complex network of fiscal interrelationships of Federal, State, and local governments, the interrelationships among local governments themselves, and the nature of governmental reviews make analysis extremely hazardous.

EMPLOYMENT Employment is a useful measure of the resources allocated to various local government functions. The Census of Governments reports this information for governments within and outside metropolitan areas but unfortunately does not provide a central city-suburban breakdown.

In relation to population, local governments within metropolitan areas hire more employees than local governments elsewhere for numerous functions, including police and fire protection, sewerage and other sanitation, parks, libraries, and various other public services. Nevertheless, there are some important offsetting tendencies, especially in local government employment for education. In October 1962, local government employment for education averaged only 119.5 persons per 10,000 population within SMSA's, as compared with 1:37.2 persons per 10,000 population outside such areas. A similar tendency holds true for highways (11.3 persons per 10,000 population in SMSA's, but 19.4 per 10.000 elsewhere), and for such functions as natural resources, financial administration, and general control. As a net result of these divergent tendencies, average local government employment for all functions was only slightly higher

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