54th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Regional development & globalisation: Best practices", 26-29 August 2014, St. Petersburg, Russia
In this article, we quantitatively analyze changes in the size distribution of municipal jurisdictions in Japan by using their rank-size distribution to capture the change. In Japan, the central government sometimes enacts large-scale municipal mergers, aimed at the creating of municipalities of a certain size. Japanfs local governance policy allocates tax revenues to municipalities based on the financial shortages of each municipality, which is designed to ensure financial equality among municipalities so that the central government can evenly maintain public services, especially in rural areas. Thus, if the central government eases population discrepancy among municipalities and creates a large number of uniformly sized municipalities, then the central government can reduce subsidies to local governments. The governmentfs previous policies on municipal mergers were enacted to foster this sort of efficiency. We examine changes in the distribution of municipal jurisdiction sizes to determine the actual effect of municipal merger policies. Our results show that the discrepancy in population among municipalities was once leveled by the great municipal mergers of the 1950s Showa era.
Rank-size distribution of municipal jurisdictions Municipal mergers in Japan