In 2003, the City Auditor reviewed Austin’s Law Department [http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/auditor]. The Auditor’s 73-page report showed law department budgets – nationwide averages, Texas city averages, and Austin – per resident. The number of residents serves as the normalizing denominator, in the same way that revenue normalizes law department budgets of for-profit corporations.
Normalizing means that large and small participants can be compared to each other, because the common, primary metric – here, municipal law department budget – is divided by a common denominator – here, residents. Since the metrics correlate – the larger the budget the more residents – the resulting ratios stand every participant on the same scale. Lawyers per billion dollars of revenue describes another common, normalized ratio.
For political geographies such as states, provinces, counties, and cities, the fundamental normalizer should be residents.