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WalMart and Local Economic Development


  • Alessandro Bonanno

    (The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA)

  • Stephan J. Goetz

    (The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA)


This article reviews the literature that evaluates WalMart’s impacts on local economies. The authors first describe the methods used to account for potential reverse causality of WalMart’s store location decisions, and then they discuss the literature assessing the company’s effect on three aspects of community life: (a) retail (and nonretail) businesses, across large- and small-sized stores and in different business environments; (b) retail workers, wages, and types of jobs; and (c) producer and consumer welfare through the company’s price-decreasing effect and other potential indirect effects. Last, articles focusing on a broad spectrum of local conditions that could be affected by the company, including poverty rates, social capital, food insecurity, policy effectiveness, and obesity are reviewed. For each dimension, evidence is found of both positive and negative effects, suggesting that we are still far from truly understanding the net effect of WalMart on local economies, let alone the overall consequences in the long run.

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandro Bonanno & Stephan J. Goetz, 2012. "WalMart and Local Economic Development," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 26(4), pages 285-297, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ecdequ:v:26:y:2012:i:4:p:285-297

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Victoria Basolo & Chihyen Huang, 2001. "Cities and Economic Development: Does the City Limits Story Still Apply?," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 15(4), pages 327-339, November.
    2. Mark D. Partridge & Dan S. Rickman & Hui Li, 2009. "Who Wins From Local Economic Development?," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 23(1), pages 13-27, February.
    3. Timothy J. Bartik, "undated". "Who Benefits from Local Job Growth: Migrants or Original Residents?," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles tjb1993rs, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    4. Craig Gundersen & James Ziliak, 2004. "Poverty and macroeconomic performance across space, race, and family structure," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 41(1), pages 61-86, February.
    5. Barbara Bergmann, 2010. "Is Prosperity Possible Without Growth?," Challenge, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(5), pages 49-56.
    6. Margaret E. Dewar, 1998. "Why State and Local Economic Development Programs Cause so Little Economic Development," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 12(1), pages 68-87, February.
    7. Ellis Delken, 2008. "Happiness in shrinking cities in Germany," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 213-218, June.
    8. Roger B. Hammer & Gary P. Green, 1996. "Local Growth Promotion: Policy Adoption versus Effort," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 10(4), pages 331-341, November.
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