Running in the Red
The Political Dynamics of Urban Fiscal Stress
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This case study of a politically reformed, middle-sized Midwestern city provides a model of fiscal stress that contrasts sharply with that of America's vast metropolitan centers. Dr. Rubin examines the interaction of social, political, and economic causes of the city's predicament. She then goes on to analyze the specific factors that solved the city's problems over a six-year period. Finally, she offers a self-correcting mechanism that would allow a city to save itself from financial trouble without direct state or federal assistance.
This study suggests that local political factors were even more important than national factors in contributing to the city's fiscal stress. It also brings into question the theory that generosity to the poor creates urban fiscal stress and that giving less to the poor will solve urban financial problems.
Irene S. Rubin is Assistant Professor of Political Science, Division of Public Affairs, at Northern Illinois University.