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Pittsburgh Region Second Most Decentralized in US

A new study of government operations throughout the United States finds Pittsburgh to be second most decentralized region when it comes to how local governments interact. Chicago tops the list.

David Miller led the research team at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Metropolitan Studies. He said Pittsburgh is leading the way in a national trend. "Nationwide 70% of metropolitan regions are more decentralized in 2007 than they were in 1987," said Miller.

The study looked at government services such as police and fire protection, water and sewer services and public works. Miller said the goal was not to judge but to provide data with a long time scale to other researchers.

However, Miller does have his own opinions. "The research that I have done is suggestive that regions that are highly decentralized have more problems dealing with a wide variety of public problems," said Miller.

Also near the top of the list with Pittsburgh are St. Louis, New York, Boston and Philadelphia. In fact, Miller found cities in the northeast are more likely to have a high decentralization rating than those in the south.

Miller said the growth in decentralization is very much a factor of the migration out of central cities and into ever-growing suburbs.

The findings are posted as open source data online for researchers looking at issues of transportation, education and the environmental policy.

Among the most centralized cities are Colorado Springs, Denver and Salt Lake City.