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Whither the American West? Natural Amenities, Energy and Nonmetropolitan County Growth

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  • Rickman, Dan S.
  • Wang, Hongbo

Abstract

The American West has long experienced strong economic growth. The varied economy of the region though has produced a diversity of economic outcomes and trends. In this paper, we assess whether there have been significant relative shifts in economic growth across the nonmetropolitan counties of the region between the periods of 1992-2004 and 2004-2016. We find significant relative downward growth shifts in areas most abundant in natural amenities. Further analysis suggests the downward growth shifts in high amenity counties resulted from the capitalization of the amenities into housing costs, not from diminished quality of life in the counties. Economic growth significantly accelerated in counties where significant oil and gas extractive activity occurred, in which most of the counties were not previously considered as highly dependent on the energy industry. Counties with low levels of natural amenities and an absence of oil and gas resources continued to struggle and are suggested to likely be in need of place-based labor demand policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Rickman, Dan S. & Wang, Hongbo, 2018. "Whither the American West? Natural Amenities, Energy and Nonmetropolitan County Growth," MPRA Paper 90078, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:90078
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Natural amenities; Oil and gas boom; Nonmetropolitan counties;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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