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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Not Just Pensions: The Social Origins of Municipal Bankruptcy in California


The purpose of this brief is to place these bankruptcies in comparative perspective and to highlight some lessons from relevant social science on the roots of big-city fiscal crises. Big-city bankruptcies are sufficiently rare events that we cannot rely on statistical studies of a large sample of cases to determine their causes. We do, however, have a substantial case-study literature on the causes of fiscal strain in California cities.

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