The Changing Demographic Context of Municipal Governance

by Peter A. Morrison

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Each city's demographic context shapes the local political process and, to some degree, the way government functions get carried out. Changes in context are more extreme in some places than in others, but the 1990 census will reveal certain common developments in most cities. This paper considers three sets of developments: increasing ethnic and racial diversity in the electorate and the workplace; intensifying needs among children; and intergenerational tensions, not only between working-age people and the elderly but also between parents and child-free couples. Mayors, councilmembers, and other elected city officials should watch these developments closely as the decade of the 1990s unfolds. The texture of these issues will differ from city to city. The underlying demographic developments that introduced them during the 1980s will intensify them in most cities during the 1990s.

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