Does the 'Metropolitan' Designation Really Pay Off?

Chuck Eckenstahler examines the “Benton Harbor Rule”—the desired funding and support that comes from a designation by the federal government as “metropolitan.” But does the “metropolitan” designation pay off as intended?

“In the 1970’s being ‘metropolitan’ meant more than increased state and federal money, according to the supporters. ‘Metropolitan’ meant growth – increasing population and prosperity,” writes Chuck Eckenstahler.

After a successful lobbying effort by local political leaders, Benton Harbor-St. Joseph was one of nine new Metropolitan Areas created for the 1980 Census. Eckenstahler examines the population growth of Benton Harbor-St. Joseph since then to examine if the designation paid off.

“This data reveals population of the Benton Harbor/St. Joseph MAS did not grow to the same extent as other comparative MSA’s created in 1980 – being a population loss of 8.4% compared to a 35.2% growth in population over the past three decades.”

Eckenstahler then explores dynamics like “geographic isolationism” and “paralysis of political geography” as causes of the decline.

Full Story: Does Calling Someplace a Metropolitan Area Make It So?

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