Joint Discussion Paper Series in Economics 43-2016
Inter-municipal cooperation (IMC) is promoted as a way in which small, fiscally weak munic-ipalities can cope with intensified interregional competition and demographic change. We pro-vide first evidence on citizens' support for IMC using survey data from rural Germany. We cover different fields of public services and find the support for IMC to be lower for services where IMC implies intensified interaction with citizens from neighboring municipalities. The main research question asks whether citizens' support for IMC is larger in municipalities that can - by the logic of normative theory - expect higher net benefits from IMC. The answer is largely negative: While support for IMC decreases in the travel-time to neighboring municipal-ities, we do not find the support for IMC to be higher among citizens in small and/or fiscally weak municipalities, nor do we find the available of suitable partners to matter. At the same time, citizens' policy preferences strongly depends on individual-level factors. Believing that IMC reduces citizens' influence and control reduces the support for IMC substantially. Trust in local politicians and a high degree of emotional attachment to the home municipality reduce citizens' support for IMC.