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Can regional policy in a federation improve economic efficiency?

  • Fuest, Clemens
  • Huber, Bernd

In the European Union and in many federal and non-federal countries, the central government pays subsidies to poor regions. These subsidies are often seen as a redistributive measure which comes at the cost of an efficiency loss. This paper develops an economic rationale for regional policy based on economic efficiency. We consider a model of a federation consisting of a rich and a poor region. The economy is characterized by imperfect competition in goods markets and unemployment. Firms initially produce in the rich region but may relocate their production to the poor region. We show that a subsidy on investment in the poor region unambiguously increases welfare if labour markets are competitive. If there is unemployment in both regions, the case for regional subsidies is weaker.

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Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Munich Reprints in Economics with number 20331.

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Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Public Economics 3 90(2006): pp. 499-511
Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:20331
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  1. Martin, Philippe, 1998. "Public Policies, Regional Inequalities and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 1841, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Huizinga, Harry & Nielsen, Soren Bo, 1997. "Capital income and profit taxation with foreign ownership of firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 149-165, February.
  3. Fuest, Clemens & Huber, Bernd, 2000. "Why do governments subsidise investment and not employment?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1-2), pages 171-192, October.
  4. Burbidge, John B. & Myers, Gordon M., 1994. "Population mobility and capital tax competition," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 441-459, August.
  5. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 483-99, June.
  6. Sinn, Gerlinde & Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1992. "Kaltstart. Volkswirtschaftliche Aspekte der Deutschen Vereinigung," Monograph, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, edition 2, number urn:isbn:9783161459429.
  7. Horstmann, Ignatius J. & Markusen, James R., 1992. "Endogenous market structures in international trade (natura facit saltum)," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-2), pages 109-129, February.
  8. Richter, Wolfram F. & Wellisch, Dietmar, 1996. "The provision of local public goods and factors in the presence of firm and household mobility," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 73-93, April.
  9. Markusen, James R. & Morey, Edward R. & Olewiler, Nancy, 1995. "Competition in regional environmental policies when plant locations are endogenous," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 55-77, January.
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