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According to a graph on wikimedia, and the corresponding wikipedia page merging of municipalities applied to an extreme scale in western germany between 1972 and 1979. Most states had less than 1/3 municipalities they had at the start of the decade. Even the two states who resisted this trend, Schleswig-Holstein & Rheineland/Pflatz, still had a rapid decrease, but only by 20%.

Why did this happen so sudently ?

enter image description here

  • Maybe there was a change in the law that made it advantageous (or required) to merge Geminden ? Such as, a population size requirement, or something. – kimchi lover Jul 14 '17 at 22:12
  • During the last economical crisis one of the proposed saving measures in Spain was to reduce the number of municipalities, and your graph shows the decline suspiciously close to the 1973 crisis. I have tried finding some data about the federal budget, but found no data old enough. This google book... – SJuan76 Jul 14 '17 at 22:13
  • ... also points to costs savings as a reason to amalgamation, and tells that the process has happenned through all of Western Europe between 1970s-2000s. Maybe someone can dig this hypothesis some more. – SJuan76 Jul 14 '17 at 22:14
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    This wikipedia article says "many smaller municipalities have lost this city status in various administrative reforms in the last 40 years when they were incorporated into a Kreis. " Which squares with the other comments. – kimchi lover Jul 14 '17 at 22:17
  • @kimchilover - It seems likely to be something like that. You usually only see sharp data discontinuities like that when someone has changed the definition of things. – T.E.D. Jul 14 '17 at 23:19
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The reduction was a deliberate policy. It is discussed at some length in section 2 of this paper by Hellmut Wollmann of Humboldt University.

Firstly, there had been huge changes in the settlement structure in post-war Germany, especially after the partition into East and West Germany. The old regional government model was becoming overwhelmed in many areas.

Secondly, regional planning policy was changing to the "Zentralörtliches System". The intent was to create a more efficient and cost-effective system, and this necessitated a smaller number of "central localities".

Finally (and perhaps the strongest driver for the changes) the introduction of the expansive welfare state by the Social Democrats would just have been too unwieldy without a huge reduction in the number of municipalities.

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