This long-needed, volume gives an overview of the past, present, and future of American county government. Recognized authorities describe how county governments have developed, how they are chosen and function in metropolitan and rural counties, and how they interrelate with state and national units of government. This primer analyzing how governmental roles are changing and how counties governments in the future might better deliver essential human services is intended for students and professionals and for classroom use, for courses in state and local government, urban and rural studies, and public administration.
This expert overview begins with a short introduction and brief history. Then three chapters outline the broad characteristics of county governments today in terms of authority, structure, elections, legislatures and legislation, the capacities of county governments, and intergovernmental relations. Five chapters assess in turn how counties provide full-service government, the characteristics of metropolitan counties and urbanization, the special problems of rural county governments, shifting roles in county-state relations, and county policy objectives at the national level. The conclusion discusses counties, other governments, and future prospects. The reference list points to related readings of note.