Size is not everything – The efficiency of municipal service provision in Saxony-Anhalt
The proponents of municipal area reforms – e.g. the recently completed reform in Saxony-Anhalt – expect that municipal amalgamations or centralized organizational forms save costs or increase the efficiency of local public service provision. This article examines the potential efficiency deficits of Saxony-Anhalt´s fragmented municipal structures on the eve of the crucial phase of the municipal reform. The results of a two-step DEA bootstrap procedure show that decentralized municipalities (“Verwaltungsgemeinschaften”) do not have to be significantly less efficient than centralized municipalities (“Einheitsgemeinden”). Furthermore, the results of the scale efficiency analysis suggest that the majority of Saxony-Anhalt´s communities already had an approximately efficient “firm size” – if the aggregated level of the municipal associations is examined. The relationship between scale efficiency and population is U-shaped. On the one hand, the results do not support the preservation of micro-municipalities or the formation of municipal associations with more than ten members. On the other hand, the results provide also no evidence for the necessity to reduce the number of towns and municipalities in Saxony-Anhalt from 1118 in 2004 to currently 219 – even if the looming population decline is taken into account.