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Too much of a good thing? On the growth effects of the EU's regional policy

  • Becker, Sascha O.
  • Egger, Peter H.
  • von Ehrlich, Maximilian

The European Union (EU) provides grants to disadvantaged regions of member states from two pools, the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund. The main goal of the associated transfers is to facilitate convergence of poor regions (in terms of per-capita income) to the EU average. We use data at the NUTS3 level from the last two EU budgetary periods (1994–1999 and 2000–2006) and generalized propensity score estimation to analyze to which extent the goal of fostering growth in the target regions was achieved with the funds provided and whether or not more transfers generated stronger growth effects. We find that, overall, EU transfers enable faster growth in the recipient regions as intended, but we estimate that in 36% of the recipient regions the transfer intensity exceeds the aggregate efficiency maximizing level and in 18% of the regions a reduction of transfers would not even reduce their growth. We conclude that some reallocation of the funds across target regions would lead to higher aggregate growth in the EU and could generate even faster convergence than the current scheme does.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 56 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 648-668

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:56:y:2012:i:4:p:648-668
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  2. Martin, Philippe, 1999. "Public policies, regional inequalities and growth," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 85-105, July.
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  5. Murphy, Kevin M & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1989. "Industrialization and the Big Push," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1003-26, October.
  6. Becker, Sascha & Egger, Peter H & Fenge, Robert & von, Ehrlich Maximilian, 2008. "Going NUTS: The Effect of EU Structural Funds on Regional Performance," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2008-27, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
  7. Mohl, Philipp & Hagen, Tobias, 2008. "Which is the Right Dose of EU Cohesion Policy for Economic Growth?," ZEW Discussion Papers 08-104, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  8. Author-Name: Jeffrey D. Sachs & John W. McArthur & Guido Schmidt-Traub & Margaret Kruk & Chandrika Bahadur & Michael Faye & Gordon McCord, 2004. "Ending Africa's Poverty Trap," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 35(1), pages 117-240.
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  11. Widgrén, Mika, 2008. "The Impact of Council Voting Rules on EU Decision-Making," Discussion Papers 1162, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
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