The article reviews the ongoing Finnish municipal reform (known as the PARAS project) concerning the development of municipal mergers in large and middle-sized urban regions. The discourse of optimal municipal size is identified as a key driver in the reform. While the reform has approached municipal size in terms of the number of population, and focused on counting necessary population bases especially for social and health care services, it has neglected the geographical dimension of municipal size. In urban regions this has often resulted in municipal mergers where the ‘outer circle’ fringe municipalities have merged with the central city, while the ‘inner circle’ neighbouring municipalities have remained outside these mergers. It has often been claimed that the ‘inner circle’ municipalities resort to sub-optimization and attempt to maintain their independence, since they can benefit economically from their closeness to the central city and its jobs and specialized services, and attract new commuting residents, while the ‘outer circle’ municipalities are economically worse off and are therefore more motivated to merge with the central city. In the article, an analytical framework to study this general assumption is developed. The framework connects the analysis of main fiscal cost indicators of the municipalities with their distance analysis from the central cities in the urban regions. The analysis reveals that the neighbouring municipalities, with a distance of 10-20 km from the urban region’s centre, indicate, in the average, economically stronger subsistence than the central cities, while the ‘outer ring’ municipalities, with a distance of 30-50 km indicate weaker subsistence levels. The analysis shows correlation between the municipalities economic subsistence and the development of municipal mergers in the Finnish urban regions.
|Number of pages||19|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|
|MoE publication type||A1 Journal article-refereed|