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This article examines whether or not municipal mergers change the perceived level of public services within a merged municipality. I argue that residents of small municipalities that merge with larger neighbors lose political powers after the mergers; they become a minority within a merged municipality, and their electoral importance declines accordingly. As a result, the level of public services to the merged localities is expected to decrease. I test this argument by focusing on the nationwide concurrence of municipal mergers in Japan that rapidly took place in the 2000s. I conducted a survey of voters in rural municipalities that merged and those that remained intact during this wave of mergers. Using the responses to the survey, I demonstrate that the level of public services, as perceived by the respondents, declined more significantly in municipalities with mergers than in municipalities without.

Low-income people of color in urban communities have been found to suffer from high levels of political inequality and poor political representation. To make policy more responsive and accountable, neighborhood organizations are often solicited to serve as informal community representatives in local decision-making processes. Given this reliance on nonelected representatives, we ask, Do community residents believe neighborhood organizations are legitimate representatives of their interests? Using survey data from residents of the South Side of Chicago, this article demonstrates that residents’ trust in organizations as representatives varies significantly by organizational type. Specifically, community organizations, religious congregations, and schools are rated as more trustworthy to speak on behalf of the community than local elected officials. These findings hold relatively constant across a variety of individual- and community-level differences, implying that this preference is widespread and may extend to other vulnerable urban communities in the United States.

Scholars have long argued that gentrification may displace long-term homeowners by causing their property taxes to increase, and policy makers, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have cited this argument as a justification for state laws that limit the increase of residential property taxes. We test the hypotheses that gentrification directly displaces homeowners by increasing their property taxes, and that property tax limitation protects residents of gentrifying neighborhoods from displacement, by merging the Panel Study of Income Dynamics with a decennial Census-tract-level measure of gentrification and a new data set on state-level property tax policy covering the period 1987 to 2009. We find some evidence that property tax pressure can trigger involuntary moves by homeowners, but no evidence that such displacement is more common in gentrifying neighborhoods than elsewhere, nor that property tax limitation protects long-term homeowners in gentrifying neighborhoods. We do find evidence that gentrification directly displaces renters.

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ICTC Conference 9-11 Nov 2016   |  Launceston, Tasmania
Future Places: Conflict in Harmony

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The 16th International Cities Town Centres & Communities Conference features over 80 world-class presentations from city planning, place making, economic development and innovation specialists from Australia, Europe, UK, New Zealand and USA.. 

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