The growth of the public sector over the past two decades has not eliminated the importance of local government, and may have actually increased conflict over policies affecting local government. To understand these changes a more articulated concept of centralization is needed which can encompass the reciprocal relationships of various levels of government, and which takes into account their shared claim on national revenues. Using national accounting data, the effect of the growth of public spending from 1963 to 1973 is compared with the relative share allotted to local government in five countries. These trends in the distribution of resources are then compared with the fiscal and financial policies affecting each local government system. The conclusion is that the alternative ways that countries chose to provide resources to the local level may be a better way of gauging relative degrees of centralization over time than the more commonly used absolute measures.
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