Counties generally fulfill three service roles: traditional or state-mandated; local or municipal; and regional or urban. Benton has written the first scholarly treatment of county governments as providers of all three of these types of services, dispelling the notion that counties are mere providers of services they are mandated to perform by their state governments. County governments in the United States have become increasingly important as service providers over the past several decades, vis-a-vis municipalities and townships. These services change over time and vary from region to region.
Variations in the roles that county governments play in the provision of traditional, local, and regional service are explained. Therefore, in addition to examining multiple indicators of service roles for all 3,043 counties in the United States, the analysis is extended to investigate the influence of political, state constitutions, statutes, and financial aid, population growth patterns, metropolitan/non-metropolitan status, and form of government.