Why Do Countries Subsidize Investment and Not Employment?
The governments of nearly all industrialised countries use subsidies to support the economic development of specific sectors or regions with high rates of unemployment. Conventional economic wisdom would suggest that the most efficient way to support these regions or sectors is to pay employment subsidies. We present evidence showing that capital subsidies are empirically much more important than employment subsidies. We then discuss possible explanations for the dominance of investment subsidies and develop a simple model with unemployment to explain this phenomenon. In our model, unemployment arises due to bargaining between unions and heterogenous firms that differ with respect to their productivity. Union bargaining power raises wage costs and leads to a socially inefficient collapse of low productivity firms and a corresponding job loss. Union-firm bargaining also gives rise to underinvestment. In this framework, it turns out that an investment subsidy dominates an employment subsidy in terms of welfare. The reason is that investment subsidies are a more efficient instrument to alleviate the underinvestment problem and to raise the number of operating firms.
|Date of creation:||Aug 1998|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Fuest, Clemens and Bernd Huber. "Why Do Governments Subsidize Investment And Not Employment?," Journal of Public Economics, 2000, v78(1-2,Oct), 171-192.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Begg, David & Portes, Richard, 1992.
"Eastern Germany Since Unification: Wage Subsidies Remain a Better Way,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
730, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- David Begg & Richard Portes, 1993. "Eastern Germany since unification: wage subsidies remain a better way," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 1(4), pages 383-400, December.
- Anderson, Simon P & Devereux, Michael, 1988.
" Trade Unions and the Choice of Capital Stock,"
Scandinavian Journal of Economics,
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 90(1), pages 27-44.
- Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 1991.
"Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market,"
Oxford University Press, number 9780198284345, December.
- Layard, Richard & Nickell, Stephen & Jackman, Richard, 2005. "Unemployment: Macroeconomic Performance and the Labour Market," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199279173, December.
- Austan Goolsbee, 1997. "Investment Tax Incentives, Prices, and the Supply of Capital Goods," NBER Working Papers 6192, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Grout, Paul A, 1984. "Investment and Wages in the Absence of Binding Contracts: A Nash Bargining Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 449-60, March.
- Gaute Torsvik, 1993. "Regional-incentive programs and the problem of time-inconsistent plans," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 58(2), pages 187-202, June.
- Michael B. Devereux & Ben Lockwood, 1989.
"Trade Unions, Non-Binding Wage Agreements, and Capital Accumulation,"
743, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
- Devereux, Michael B. & Lockwood, Ben, 1991. "Trade unions, non-binding wage agreements, and capital accumulation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 1411-1426, October.
- George A. Akerlof & Andrew K. Rose & Janet L. Yellen & Helga Hessenius, 1991. "East Germany in from the Cold: The Economic Aftermath of Currency Union," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(1), pages 1-106.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6685. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.