An Exploration of the Political Dimensions of Cities’ Fiscal Policy Space

36 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2017 Last revised: 29 Jan 2017

Date Written: August 8, 2014


Drawing upon literature from political science, economics, and sociology that has attempted to consider how local preferences are translated into policy outcomes, we delineate four conceptually distinct areas of “the local political system”: resident and interest-group demands, partisanship or ideology, local political culture, and municipal institutional arrangements. After describing the data and measures used to characterize political features of the 100 cities in the Fiscal Policy Space (FPS) dataset, we show how those measures can be distilled into a smaller, meaningful set of indicators of political constraint on fiscal policy. Some illustrations of how the FPS cities sort out along these various dimensions are then presented. We conclude by offering several hypotheses about the degree to which each of these dimensions might constrain local choices about budgeting and service provision.

Keywords: municipal finance, urban politics, fiscal policy, local political institutions, local political culture

Suggested Citation

Lewis, Paul G., An Exploration of the Political Dimensions of Cities’ Fiscal Policy Space (August 8, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Paul G. Lewis (Contact Author)

Arizona State University ( email )

PO Box 873902
Tempe, AZ 85287-3902
United States

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