Why Do Countries Subsidize Investment and Not Employment?
AbstractThe governments of nearly all industrialised countries use subsidies to support the economic development of specific sectors or regions with high rates of unemployment. Conventional economic wisdom would suggest that the most efficient way to support these regions or sectors is to pay employment subsidies. We present evidence showing that capital subsidies are empirically much more important than employment subsidies. We then discuss possible explanations for the dominance of investment subsidies and develop a simple model with unemployment to explain this phenomenon. In our model, unemployment arises due to bargaining between unions and heterogenous firms that differ with respect to their productivity. Union bargaining power raises wage costs and leads to a socially inefficient collapse of low productivity firms and a corresponding job loss. Union-firm bargaining also gives rise to underinvestment. In this framework, it turns out that an investment subsidy dominates an employment subsidy in terms of welfare. The reason is that investment subsidies are a more efficient instrument to alleviate the underinvestment problem and to raise the number of operating firms.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6685.
Date of creation: Aug 1998
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
- J51 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Trade Unions: Objectives, Structure, and Effects
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Michael B. Devereux & Ben Lockwood, 1989.
"Trade Unions, Non-Binding Wage Agreements, and Capital Accumulation,"
743, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
- Devereux, Michael B. & Lockwood, Ben, 1991. "Trade unions, non-binding wage agreements, and capital accumulation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 1411-1426, October.
- David Begg & Richard Portes, 1993.
"Eastern Germany since unification: wage subsidies remain a better way,"
The Economics of Transition,
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 1(4), pages 383-400, December.
- Begg, David & Portes, Richard, 1992. "Eastern Germany Since Unification: Wage Subsidies Remain a Better Way," CEPR Discussion Papers 730, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- George A. Akerlof & Andrew K. Rose & Janet L. Yellen & Helga Hessenius, 1991. "East Germany in from the Cold: The Economic Aftermath of Currency Union," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(1), pages 1-106.
- Austan Goolsbee, 1998.
"Investment Tax Incentives, Prices, And The Supply Of Capital Goods,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 113(1), pages 121-148, February.
- Austan Goolsbee, 1997. "Investment Tax Incentives, Prices, and the Supply of Capital Goods," NBER Working Papers 6192, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 1991.
"Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market,"
Oxford University Press, number 9780198284345.
- Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 2005. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199279173.
- Gaute Torsvik, 1993. "Regional-incentive programs and the problem of time-inconsistent plans," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 58(2), pages 187-202, June.
- Anderson, Simon P & Devereux, Michael, 1988.
" Trade Unions and the Choice of Capital Stock,"
Scandinavian Journal of Economics,
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 90(1), pages 27-44.
- Grout, Paul A, 1984. "Investment and Wages in the Absence of Binding Contracts: A Nash Bargining Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 449-60, March.
- Sarkar, Sudipto, 2012. "Attracting private investment: Tax reduction, investment subsidy, or both?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 1780-1785.
- Thomas Moutos & William Scarth, 2000. "Work-Sharing: an Efficiency-Wage Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 386, CESifo Group Munich.
- Andreas Haufler & Alexander Klemm & Guttorm Schjelderup, 2006.
"Globalisation and the Mix of Wage and Profit Taxes,"
CESifo Working Paper Series
1678, CESifo Group Munich.
- Haufler, Andreas & Klemm, Alexander & Schjelderup, Guttorm, 2006. "Globalisation and the mix of wage and profit taxes," Discussion Papers in Economics 885, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
- Fuest, Clemens & Huber, Bernd, 2000. "Why do governments subsidise investment and not employment?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1-2), pages 171-192, October.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.