Annexation, Incorporation and the Health of Central Cities in North and South Carolina

  • Olga Smimova East Carolina University
  • Gerald Ingalls University of North Carolina at Charlotte


During the last four decades of the twentieth century North and South Carolina experienced rapid population growth and significant development of their metropolitan centers. In both states metropolitan population growth outstripped overall growth by more than 20 percent. However, the distribution of population growth within metropolitan centers was strikingly different. This study compares legislation provisions on annexation incorporation and special district formation in the two states and utilizes data from multiple sources to explore the relative impact of two substantially different policy climates. The principle focus is on annexation policies and incorporation statues and their impact on the pattern of growth and expansion of central cities and their suburbs. We argue that the differences in growth patterns can be linked to striking differences in annexation policy; particularly policies regarding involuntary annexation. And further, that the annexation and incorporation policy differences between the two states have impacted the formation of special district government.