Patterns in Special District Creation and Dissolution

Special districts

Christopher B. Goodman. “Patterns in Special District Creation and Dissolution”


Northern Illinois University


May 2020


Special districts are a numerous and unique form of local government in the United States. Unlike cities, counties, and towns, special districts are created and dissolved often. Using tools from the industrial organizations literature, this analysis examines patterns in creation and dissolution of special districts using Census of Governments data from 1972 to 2017. Overall, the rate of entry (creation) has been declining over time while the rate of exit (dissolution) has remained steady. New districts tend to be small relative to existing districts and and exhibit slow growth over time. Lastly, special districts do not appear susceptible to the “liability of newness” or exhibit high levels of infant organizational mortality that is common in the private sector.


BibTeX citation:
  author = {Christopher B. Goodman},
  title = {Patterns in Special District Creation and Dissolution},
  date = {2020-05-02},
  url = {},
  langid = {en}