Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Kenneth N. Bickers

Second Advisor

Susan Clarke

Third Advisor

E. Scott Adler


People have the power to change where they live, where they work, where they vote, and where they spend their money. This geographic uncertainty has important implications for the policies cities pursue as it impacts the relative value of local goods provision. In this dissertation I examine how the potential movement of people within metropolitan areas influences developmental goods provision and production.

The proximate polity theory begins with the assumption that city officials aim to maximize the economic and political benefits of developmental policies while also minimizing the economic and political risks of policy failure. Accordingly, local leaders strike this balance by anticipating how their policy choices are likely to influence the movement of people in and out of the jurisdiction. In order to make this assessment, public officials must be keenly aware of who resides in nearby cities and also which policies nearby cities are engaging. Because policy consequences do not end at the jurisdiction’s edge, leaders must also pay attention to how their policies will influence the political relationships that exist between themselves and other cities.

Using spatial statistics and network analysis tools, I test the theory on a dataset of 15 metropolitan areas across the United States. I then focus in Colorado’s Front Range cities for a closer analysis that includes original survey data, time-space models of development policy over a 25 year period, and a dyadic analysis of intergovernmental developmental cooperation.