British Journal of Political Science

Notes and Comments

Federal Responses to Urban Fiscal Stress and Decline in the United States

Desmond S. King* and Ted Robert Gurr*

This Note reports some findings from a larger study we are embarked upon. Our broader objective is to develop a general theory of the national state's interest in cities in advanced industrial societies. We argue that state officials generally pursue their own interests in the protection and expansion of state power and resources and specifically have interest in the viability of cities, interests that do not simply reflect the interests of private capital or any other societal groups. A broad twofold distinction is made between those state activities necessary for the perpetuation of the state (maintenance of public order, legitimacy, durable political institutions, revenue base) and those necessary for the perpetuation of cities (provision of collective goods, developmental policies and social services). Space limitations preclude a full account and justification of these arguments here. Rather, we present some hypotheses about how such state interests should inform the allocation of funds across cities and report the findings of some initial empirical tests for the United States.

Footnotes

* Department of Politics, University of Edinburgh and Department of Political Science, University of Colorado, respectively.