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The Economics of Place-Making Policies

  • Edward L. Glaeser
  • Joshua D. Gottlieb

Should the national government undertake policies aimed at strengthening the economies of particular localities or regions? Agglomeration economies and human capital spillovers suggest that such policies could enhance welfare. However, the mere existence of agglomeration externalities does not indicate which places should be subsidized. Without a better understanding of nonlinearities in these externalities, any government spatial policy is as likely to reduce as to increase welfare. Transportation spending has historically done much to make or break particular places, but current transportation spending subsidizes low-income, low-density places where agglomeration effects are likely to be weakest. Most large-scale place-oriented policies have had little discernable impact. Some targeted policies such as Empowerment Zones seem to have an effect but are expensive relative to their achievements. The greatest promise for a national place-based policy lies in impeding the tendency of highly productive areas to restrict their own growth through restrictions on land use.

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Article provided by Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution in its journal Brookings Papers on Economic Activity.

Volume (Year): 39 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (Spring) ()
Pages: 155-253

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Handle: RePEc:bin:bpeajo:v:39:y:2008:i:2008-01:p:155-253
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  2. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2005. "Urban Decline and Durable Housing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 345-375, April.
  3. Nathaniel Baum-Snow, 2007. "Did Highways Cause Suburbanization?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(2), pages 775-805, 05.
  4. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn, 2003. "Sprawl and Urban Growth," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2004, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  5. Christopher R. Berry & Edward L. Glaeser, 2005. "The Divergence of Human Capital Levels across Cities," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2091, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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  7. Richard K. Green, 2006. "Airports and Economic Development," Working Papers 0002, School of Business, The George Washington University.
  8. Edward L Glaeser & Jesse M Shapiro, 2003. "Urban Growth in the 1990s: Is City Living Back?," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 139-165.
  9. Kahn, Matthew E., 2003. "The geography of US pollution intensive trade: evidence from 1958 to 1994," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 383-400, July.
  10. Moretti, Enrico, 2004. "Estimating the social return to higher education: evidence from longitudinal and repeated cross-sectional data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 175-212.
  11. Edward L. Glaeser & Hedi D. Kallal & Jose A. Scheinkman & Andrei Shleifer, 1991. "Growth in Cities," NBER Working Papers 3787, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Kallal, Hedi D. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Shleifer, Andrei, 1992. "Growth in Cities," Scholarly Articles 3451309, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  12. Rappaport, Jordan & Sachs, Jeffrey D, 2003. " The United States as a Coastal Nation," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 5-46, March.
  13. Jesse M. Shapiro, 2006. "Smart Cities: Quality of Life, Productivity, and the Growth Effects of Human Capital," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 324-335, May.
  14. Ciccone, Antonio & Hall, Robert E, 1996. "Productivity and the Density of Economic Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 54-70, March.
  15. Paul M Romer, 1999. "Increasing Returns and Long-Run Growth," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2232, David K. Levine.
  16. Edward L. Glaeser & David C. Mare, 1994. "Cities and Skills," NBER Working Papers 4728, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Gyourko, Joseph & Tracy, Joseph, 1989. "The Importance of Local Fiscal Conditions in Analyzing Local Labor Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1208-31, October.
  18. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Duranton, Gilles & Gobillon, Laurent, 2004. "Spatial Wage Disparities: Sorting Matters!," CEPR Discussion Papers 4240, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  19. Matias Busso & Patrick Kline, 2008. "Do Local Economic Development Programs Work? Evidence from the Federal Empowerment Zone Program," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1639, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  20. Edward L. Glaeser & Albert Saiz, 2003. "The Rise of the Skilled City," NBER Working Papers 10191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Rauch James E., 1993. "Productivity Gains from Geographic Concentration of Human Capital: Evidence from the Cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 380-400, November.
  22. Duncan Black & Vernon Henderson, 1997. "Urban Growth," NBER Working Papers 6008, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Berry, Christopher R. & Glaeser, Edward L., 2005. "Divergence of Human Capital Levels across Cities," Working Paper Series rwp05-057, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  24. Simon, Curtis J. & Nardinelli, Clark, 1996. "The Talk of the Town: Human Capital, Information, and the Growth of English Cities, 1861 to 1961," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 384-413, July.
  25. Christopher R. Berry & Edward L. Glaeser, 2005. "The divergence of human capital levels across cities," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 84(3), pages 407-444, 08.
  26. Glaeser, Edward L., 1994. "Why does schooling generate economic growth?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 333-337.
  27. Glaeser, Edward L. & Saks, Raven E., 2006. "Corruption in America," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(6-7), pages 1053-1072, August.
  28. Brueckner, Jan K., 1983. "Property value maximization and public sector efficiency," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 1-15, July.
  29. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 1996. "Why Is There More Crime in Cities?," NBER Working Papers 5430, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. Edward L. Glaeser & Bryce A. Ward, 2006. "The Causes and Consequences of Land Use Regulation: Evidence from Greater Boston," NBER Working Papers 12601, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. Bewley, Truman F, 1981. "A Critique of Tiebout's Theory of Local Public Expenditures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(3), pages 713-40, May.
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  33. Edward L. Glaeser & Joshua D. Gottlieb, 2006. "Urban Resurgence and the Consumer City," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 43(8), pages 1275-1299, July.
  34. Edward L. Glaeser & Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto, 2010. "Did the Death of Distance Hurt Detroit and Help New York?," NBER Chapters, in: Agglomeration Economics, pages 303-337 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  35. Craig, Lee A & Palmquist, Raymond B & Weiss, Thomas, 1998. "Transportation Improvements and Land Values in the Antebellum United States: A Hedonic Approach," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 173-89, March.
  36. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Regional Evolutions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 1-76.
  37. Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1991. "Convergence across States and Regions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(1), pages 107-182.
  38. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko & Raven Saks, 2005. "Why Have Housing Prices Gone Up?," NBER Working Papers 11129, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  39. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 2001. "How Large are Human-Capital Externalities? Evidence from Compulsory-Schooling Laws," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15, pages 9-74 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  40. Barro, Robert J & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1992. "Convergence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 223-51, April.
  41. Leslie E. Papke, 1991. "Tax Policy and Urban Development: Evidence From The Indiana Enterprise Zone Program," NBER Working Papers 3945, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  42. Katz, Lawrence F. & Rosen, Kenneth T., 1987. "The Interjurisdictional Effects of Growth Controls on Housing Prices," Scholarly Articles 3442758, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  43. Edward L. Glaeser & Glenn Ellison, 1999. "The Geographic Concentration of Industry: Does Natural Advantage Explain Agglomeration?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 311-316, May.
  44. Michael R. Haines & Robert A. Margo, 2006. "Railroads and Local Economic Development: The United States in the 1850s," NBER Working Papers 12381, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  45. Roback, Jennifer, 1982. "Wages, Rents, and the Quality of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1257-78, December.
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