Privatization of Local Government Services: Understanding Differences Across Michigan’s Urban- Rural Spectrum

June 2021
Kristina Curtiss

For decades, municipalities have taken on numerous tasks that the private sector would have otherwise performed. Privatization of these services, and the way local governments prioritize them, draw into question the functioning of democracy. Be it questions of motive, accountability, or quality, current literature brings skepticism regarding certain decisions to privatize. This paper adds nuance to the conversation by evaluating these decisions across the urban-rural spectrum in Michigan, and finds that the motive to privatize differs from existing literature’s hypothesis, and that the decision to privatize municipal services differs across the urban-rural spectrum.

  • There is a difference in whether a municipality contracts out any services or governmental operations across the urban-rural spectrum. 
  • The services that municipalities chose to privatize or contract out vary across the urban-rural spectrum.
  • Municipalities are comfortable with how frequently they chose to privatize services.