Central City Population Loss and State Legislative Influence: Are City-Suburban Coalitions the Answer?

April 01, 2001

Funding: The Brookings Institution

Summary: As central cities have lost population relative to the rest of the state (and particularly to suburbs), their representation in state legislatures has decreased. How have cities attempted to respond to this loss of representation in an effort to retain their influence? The research explores the extent to which cities have attempted to achieve regional coalitions with their suburbs, as advocated by some analysts such as Myron Orfield who argue that cities and some of their suburbs increasingly share common interests. We selected major cities in four states: Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Ohio. Through interviews with mayoral aides, state legislators, and other actors as well as analysis of documents and roll call votes on important issues, we assessed the extent to which cities have engaged in coalitions with their suburbs and, more generally, what geographic areas or interests they do form coalitions with.

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