Are City Fiscal Woes Widespread? Are Pensions the Cause?
This brief explores the extent to which economic factors, poor fiscal management, and/or high pension costs contribute to the challenges cities with financial problems face.
- Alicia H. Munnell, Jean-Pierre Aubry, Josh Hurwitz, and Mark Carafelli of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College
- Publication date:
- Filed under:
- Research Studies
- Key findings:
- Only a small number of cities overall face serious financial troubles and one-third of them are in California.
- Pensions are a minor factor in financially troubled cities; fiscal mismanagement tops the list, followed by economic problems.
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Detroit’s bankruptcy and Chicago’s pension problems have prompted a wave of speculation about city finances. What are the facts?
The underlying problems in financially troubled cities have been decades in the making: population loss, declining tax bases, and other patterns of fiscal mismanagement.
Download supplement: Sketches of cities’ budgetary and economic challenges, based on local or national news media or city fiscal reports