The necessity of an administrative-territorial reform in a country: the case of Estonia. Administratiiv-territoriaalse reformi vajadus riigis: Eesti juhtum

Janno Reiljan, Aivo Ülper


The goal of this paper is to analyze the theoretical, political and organizational bases
of the territorial division of the country into municipalities as well as empirical data
of Estonian municipalities and offer a research direction for identifying conceptual
solutions to the development problems in Estonian municipalities. The analysis of
the theoretical approaches to municipal size pointed out that they are fragmented and
incompatible. Some authors support small municipalities, and others large. The
theoretical reasoning of both those directions is often strongly simplified and biased
and a unified metatheoretical approach has not been established. The empirical
analysis revealed that there is no empirical evidence to confirm either the presence
of significant size related advantages among municipalities or the existence of an
optimal municipal size considering current municipal functions and financing. The
lack of theoretical and empirical evidence on the necessity for administrativeterritorial
reform means that merging municipalities alone cannot significantly
improve the public service delivery capacities and economic and democratic
development of Estonian municipalities and that future studies should focus on
analyzing public services from the perspective of their economic efficiency, quality
and accessibility, and in doing so, determine the optimal size of regions for
providing the various public services.


optimal size of municipalities; local governments’ financial potential; local political development; amalgamation; local government reform; local government efficiency

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