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Absorptive Capacity and the Growth Effects of Regional Transfers: A Regression Discontinuity Design with Heterogeneous Treatment Effects

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

Transfers to individuals, firms, and regions are often regulated by threshold rules, giving rise to a regression discontinuity design. An example are transfers provided by the European Commission to regions of EU member states below a certain income level. Researchers have focused on estimation of the average treatment effect of this program, assuming that it does not vary in a systematic way across units. We suggest a regression discontinuity design which allows for parametric or nonparametric identification of heterogeneous average treatment effects that systematically vary with observable characteristics in order to shed light on the role of absorptive capacity in determining the impact of regional transfers on economic growth across regions in the European Union. The results suggest that only about 47% of the regions, namely those with a sufficiently high endowment with human capital and a high quality of government, are able to turn transfers under the Union's Objective 1 Structural Funds programme into faster growth. Those regions are the ones which are responsible for a positive average effect of the programme.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8474.

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Date of creation: Jul 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8474
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  1. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2009. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," NBER Working Papers 14723, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Henrik Hansen & Finn Tarp, 2004. "On The Empirics of Foreign Aid and Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(496), pages F191-F216, 06.
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  4. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
  5. 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.
  6. William Easterly, 2003. "Can Foreign Aid Buy Growth?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 23-48, Summer.
  7. Rachel Griffith & Stephen Redding & John Van Reenen, 2004. "Mapping the Two Faces of R&D: Productivity Growth in a Panel of OECD Industries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(4), pages 883-895, November.
  8. Burnside, Craig & Dollar, David, 1997. "Aid, policies, and growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1777, The World Bank.
  9. Alan J. Auerbach & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2010. "Measuring the Output Responses to Fiscal Policy," NBER Working Papers 16311, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Fitzenberger, Bernd, 1998. "The moving blocks bootstrap and robust inference for linear least squares and quantile regressions," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 235-287, February.
  11. Mauro, Paolo, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712, August.
  12. Sascha O. Becker & Peter Egger, 2007. "Endogenous Product versus Process Innovation and a Firm’s Propensity to Export," CESifo Working Paper Series 1906, CESifo Group Munich.
  13. Becker, Sascha O. & Hornung, Erik & Wößmann, Ludger, 2011. "Education and catch-up in the industrial revolution," Munich Reprints in Economics 20261, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  14. Norman Gemmell & Richard Kneller & Ismael Sanz, 2011. "The Timing and Persistence of Fiscal Policy Impacts on Growth: Evidence from OECD Countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(550), pages F33-F58, February.
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