Ren Farley

Detroit’s recent bankruptcy won’t necessarily be repeated by the nation’s other economically distressed cities because Detroit has a very particular mix of problems that sets it apart, ISR researcher Ren Farley told NPR’s Weekend Edition. Unlike cities such as Cleveland and Chicago, Detroit’s economic base has been highly dependent on just one industry—automobiles, Farley said in an August 10 interview. In addition, Michigan’s home rule system—which makes each city responsible for its own taxes and services—has caused the more than 130 municipal governments in the Detroit area to focus on their own economies rather than metropolitan-wide planning that could benefit Detroit. Add to that the racial divide that resulted from white flight and you get a city that has been largely abandoned by the surrounding communities, Farley said. “This long history of the racial divide and the animosity associated with it distinguishes Detroit from many of the other cities that are facing fairly similar economic problems,” Farley said.