A recent article by the Economist tried to explain the connection between city boundaries in the USA, municipal annexation and its implications for metropolitan governance and economic development.  [See: Economist – Why American Cities Are So Weirdly Shaped]

The articles draws on extensive research by David Rusk (see book: Suburbs: A Census 2010 Perspective) which argues that there is direct relation between fragmented metropolitan areas and poverty.

Rochester NY, where I live, sees a similar disconnect between its impoverished downtown area (City of Rochester – population 210,000 – poverty rate 33%) and the much more affluent suburbs (6 towns – population 289,000 – average poverty rate under 8%).

There is a strong argument for towns/cities coming together (cooperatively or through annexation), thus cutting down on duplication of services, and better dealing with systemic economic development issues (like crime, unemployment, poverty, transportation, education, etc.).