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Keywords:

  • boundary change;
  • cities;
  • metropolitan fragmentation;
  • municipal incorporation;
  • newly incorporated municipalities

abstract.

Scholarly literature on newly incorporated municipalities (nims) often focuses on why nims form. Instead of asking why nims formed, however, we ask why nims stopped forming. We first establish a temporal context for nims from 1950 to 2010, revealing an 86.2 percent decline in nim formation. The decline, triggered by stricter laws, smaller annexations, declining suburbanization, and boundary ossification, has profound implications for metropolitan fragmentation and public choice. We then establish a state-level spatial context, revealing distinct high-nim, low-nim, and flux states due to boundary ossification, growth, and state/regional policy stimuli such as consolidation efforts, grants, and growth management provisions.