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The Impact of Capital Subsidies: New Estimations under Continuous Treatment

  • Valentina Adorno

    ()

    (Department of Statistics, University of Bologna)

  • Cristina Bernini

    ()

    (Department of Statistics, University of Bologna)

  • Guido Pellegrini

    ()

    (Department of Statistics, University of Bologna)

Most of the relevant literature on the evaluation of the impact of public subsidies to private firms deals with the estimation of causal effects of a binary treatment. However, several policies allow for different levels of subsidies, depending on the investment project, the firm dimension, the region and also on the firms’ choice. The aim of the paper is to evaluate the causal effect of a policy intervention in the case of a continuous treatment, exploring the impact of differences in treatment level on policy outcome. As an empirical application, we estimated the impact of subsidies allocated by L. 488/1992, the main regional policy in Italy, in the southern regions of the country in the period 1996-2000. We compare two estimation methods: a parametric method, based on a more traditional DID estimator adapted to the continuous treatment case, and a non parametric estimator, based on a novel two-step matching method developed in our recent work (Adorno, Bernini and Pellegrini, 2007a). On average, our results support the conclusions derived from methods based on the binary treatment: subsidies have a positive and often statistically significant effect on employment, fixed assets and turnover. However, the strong heterogeneity of the treatment outcome with respect to different levels of treatment is highlighted. We find that higher the level of incentive, higher the policy effect until a certain point, from which the marginal impact decreases. The results are robust to changes in the estimation method.

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Article provided by GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University in its journal Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia.

Volume (Year): 66 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 67-92

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Handle: RePEc:gde:journl:gde_v66_n1_p67-92
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  1. Richard Blundell & Mónica Costa Dias, 2008. "Alternative Approaches to Evaluation in Empirical Microeconomics," CEF.UP Working Papers 0805, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
  2. Lu B. & Zanutto E. & Hornik R. & Rosenbaum P.R., 2001. "Matching With Doses in an Observational Study of a Media Campaign Against Drug Abuse," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 96, pages 1245-1253, December.
  3. Roper, Stephen & Hewitt-Dundas, Nola, 2001. "Grant Assistance and Small Firm Development in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 48(1), pages 99-117, February.
  4. Pellegrini Guido & Carlucci Carla, 2003. "Gli effetti della legge 488/92: una valutazione dell'impatto occupazionale sulle imprese agevolate," Rivista italiana degli economisti, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 2, pages 267-286.
  5. Brown, Marilyn A. & Curlee, T. Randall & Elliott, Steven R., 1995. "Evaluating technology innovation programs: the use of comparison groups to identify impacts," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 669-684, September.
  6. Susan Athey & Guido W. Imbens, 2002. "Identification and Inference in Nonlinear Difference-In-Differences Models," NBER Technical Working Papers 0280, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Sascha O. Becker & Andrea Ichino, 2002. "Estimation of average treatment effects based on propensity scores," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 2(4), pages 358-377, November.
  8. Kosuke Imai & David A. van Dyk, 2004. "Causal Inference With General Treatment Regimes: Generalizing the Propensity Score," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 99, pages 854-866, January.
  9. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias, 2000. "Evaluation methods for non-experimental data," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 21(4), pages 427-468, January.
  10. Raffaello Bronzini & Guido De Blasio, 2005. "Evaluating the impact of investment incentives - the case of the Italian Law 488," ERSA conference papers ersa05p649, European Regional Science Association.
  11. Jere R. Behrman & Yingmei Cheng & Petra E. Todd, 2004. "Evaluating Preschool Programs When Length of Exposure to the Program Varies: A Nonparametric Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 108-132, February.
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