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Government Programs Can Improve Local Labor Markets, But Do They? A Re-Analysis of Ham, Swenson, Imrohoro?lu, and Song (2011)

Author

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  • Neumark, David

    () (University of California, Irvine)

  • Young, Timothy

    () (University of California, Irvine)

Abstract

Research on the effects of enterprise zones – especially state programs – has generally failed to find evidence of beneficial effects such job growth or poverty reduction. In contrast, Ham, Swenson, Imrohoro?lu, and Song (2011, hereafter HSIS) present evidence that state and federal enterprise zones (EZs) established in the 1990s substantially reduced poverty. However, their estimates of the effects of EZs in reducing poverty are badly overstated for two reasons. First, HSIS have a substantial error in their data on poverty rates by Census tract, which accounts for most of the estimated impact of state EZs that they find. Second, their estimates of the effects of federal Empowerment Zones (EMPZs) and Enterprise Communities (ENTCs) appear to be strongly influenced by selection of areas that experienced negative shocks. An estimator based on comparing federally designated zones to more-comparable areas that applied for and were rejected as zones, or became zones in the future, yields much smaller estimates than those in HSIS. And the large poverty-reduction effects of ENTCs that HSIS found are largely spurious – not surprisingly, given that ENTCs received meager benefits and had no hiring credits.

Suggested Citation

  • Neumark, David & Young, Timothy, 2017. "Government Programs Can Improve Local Labor Markets, But Do They? A Re-Analysis of Ham, Swenson, Imrohoro?lu, and Song (2011)," IZA Discussion Papers 11168, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11168
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Reynolds, C. Lockwood & Rohlin, Shawn M., 2015. "The effects of location-based tax policies on the distribution of household income: Evidence from the federal Empowerment Zone program," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 1-15.
    2. Matthew Freedman, 2013. "Targeted Business Incentives and Local Labor Markets," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(2), pages 311-344.
    3. Matias Busso & Jesse Gregory & Patrick Kline, 2013. "Assessing the Incidence and Efficiency of a Prominent Place Based Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(2), pages 897-947, April.
    4. Ham, John C. & Swenson, Charles & İmrohoroğlu, Ayşe & Song, Heonjae, 2011. "Government programs can improve local labor markets: Evidence from State Enterprise Zones, Federal Empowerment Zones and Federal Enterprise Community," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 779-797.
    5. Hanson, Andrew, 2009. "Local employment, poverty, and property value effects of geographically-targeted tax incentives: An instrumental variables approach," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 721-731, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. John Ham & Ayşe İmrohoroğlu & Heonjae Song & Charles Swenson, 2018. "The Correct Use of Hypothesis Testing and Choosing Appropriate Comparison Groups When Estimating the Impact of Location Based Policies, A Response to Neumark and Young," Working Papers 20180022, New York University Abu Dhabi, Department of Social Science, revised Oct 2018.
    2. David Neumark & Timothy Young, 2019. "Enterprise Zones, Poverty, and Labor Market Outcomes: Resolving Conflicting Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 7784, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    enterprise zones; poverty;

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)

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