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Working Papers

The Philadelphia Metropolitan Case Study

Working paper #328
Anita A. Summers

The major conclusions from an analysis of socioeconomic and fiscal data for each of the MCDs in the Philadelphia MSA are these:
1. The communities experiencing the greatest population expansion are the ones that are smaller and more affluent.
2. The land use data confirms the increased absorption of land for development, but, in the areas of the major highway corridors, the growth has not hit zoning limitations.
3. The highest poverty is in communities with higher population density, older housing, more violent crime, and higher proportions of blacks, multi-family houses, and nonresidential developed land.
4. Poor communities exert higher tax effort, suggesting that intergovernmental flows do not fully offset the public services burdens of the poor.
5. State funding flows are unrelated to poverty rates. While larger amounts of federal redistributional funds are directed to poor MCDs, nonredistributional funds — the much larger share of federal dollars — are not. The net effect of federal flows is not redistributional.
The major policy paths involve (1) the revision of state and federal aid formulas, and (2) serious attention, in the immediate period ahead, to land-use policies.

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