Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Graduate School


Public Policy and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Edward T. Jennings

Second Advisor

Dr. Dwight V. Denison


This dissertation aims to reclassify municipal structures of the U.S. municipalities and investigates the effect of municipal structures on government fiscal management outcomes, including fiscal conditions and fiscal slack balances. This dissertation is comprised of four chapters. The first chapter briefly introduces, and each of the remaining three is an independent research article. The second chapter investigates seven essential structural characteristics of the U.S. municipalities and constructs a municipal structure political-administrative index. It then examines the determinants of municipal structures on a political-administrative dimension. The empirical results show that municipal structure choices are statistically significantly associated with citizens’ socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. Citizens’ income levels play a crucial role in determining municipal structure changes during the sample period.

The third chapter examines the effect of municipal structures on government fiscal conditions. Municipal structure is operationalized by the municipal structure political-administrative index, which is the focus of the second chapter. There are a variety of mechanisms through which municipal structures can influence government fiscal conditions, among which managerial professionalism, strategy stance, and managerial accountability versus efficiency are theoretically addressed. Empirical evidence shows that a municipal structure that is more administrative is associated with healthier fiscal conditions in cash solvency, dependence on intergovernmental transfers, and debt level. Particularly, there is an inverted U-shaped relationship between the municipal structure index and governments’ fiscal conditions. Moreover, municipal structures moderate the influence of external environmental factors.

The fourth chapter investigates the determinants of local government’s fiscal slack in a political-budgetary-managerial framework. The research argues that voters’ preferences, government’s budgetary performance, and government internal management work interactively to influence government fiscal slack, and it proposes appropriate indicators for the three explanatory dimensions. Particularly, government internal management is operationalized by the municipal structure political-administrative index. Empirical results show that voters’ anti-tax and pro-spending sentiment have a negative effect on the size of government fiscal slack, and government’s budgetary performance exerts a positive impact. Moreover, government internal management modifies the effects of voters’ preferences and government’ budgetary performance on government fiscal slack.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)