Published online by Cambridge University Press: 16 December 2021
The optimal size of government for the provision of public services is a question almost as old as the institution of government itself. One answer to the question is that government needs to be big enough to ensure that it can be both autonomous and self-sufficient. Another answer is that government needs to be large enough to capture efficiencies in service production. Neither answer is wholly satisfactory, in large part because they fail to specify how the common good is to be balanced against the need to preserve human dignity. In this chapter I first review the problems with extant arguments relating to the optimal size of government for public service provision before turning to a potential resolution to the problem which puts the person at the center of the quest for optimal local government. I then examine the most commonly executed reforms employed to alter the size of local governments before considering some public policy alternatives that might be more in keeping with an attempt to balance the common good against human dignity.