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When Good Instruments Go Bad

This note examines the instrumental variables method used by Neumark, Zhang, and Ciccarella (2005) to analyze Wal-Mart's effect on retail labor markets, and exposes major flaws in that methodology. Neumark, Zhang, and Ciccarella use an interaction between distance from Wal-Mart's headquarters and time effects to predict Wal-Mart's presence in a county, and find that each Wal-Mart store destroys, on average, approximately 200 retail jobs. These findings are in stark contrast to Basker (2005) who found a small, but positive and statistically significant, effect on jobs. I show that the IV estimates obtained by Neumark, Zhang, and Ciccarella confound Wal-Mart's causal effect with other factors. To illustrate the problem, I show that their methodology implies a large impact of Wal-Mart not only on retail employment but also on county manufacturing employment. Reduced-form estimates of the regressions show statistically and economically indistinguishable effects in counties with and without Wal-Mart presence, implying that other factors are most likely driving the results.

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File URL: http://economics.missouri.edu/working-papers/2007/WP0706_basker.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Missouri in its series Working Papers with number 0706.

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Length: 31 pgs.
Date of creation: 15 Mar 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:umc:wpaper:0706
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Web page: http://economics.missouri.edu/
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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 1999. "How Large are the Social Returns to Education? Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Laws," NBER Working Papers 7444, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Emek Basker, 2005. "Job Creation or Destruction? Labor Market Effects of Wal-Mart Expansion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 174-183, February.
  3. Jinyong Hahn & Jerry Hausman, 1999. "A New Specification Test for the Validity of Instrumental Variables," Working papers 99-11, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Thomas J. Kane & Cecilia E. Rouse, 1993. "Labor Market Returns to Two- and Four-Year Colleges: Is a Credit a Credit and Do Degrees Matter?," NBER Working Papers 4268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Neumark, David & Zhang, Junfu & Ciccarella, Stephen, 2008. "The effects of Wal-Mart on local labor markets," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 405-430, March.
  7. Maluccio, John A., 1998. "Endogeneity of schooling in the wage function," FCND discussion papers 54, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  8. Thomas J. Holmes, 2008. "The Diffusion of Wal-Mart and Economies of Density," NBER Working Papers 13783, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Jeffrey D. Sachs, 2003. "Institutions Don't Rule: Direct Effects of Geography on Per Capita Income," NBER Working Papers 9490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Thomas J. Holmes & John J. Stevens, 2002. "Geographic concentration and establishment size: analysis in an alternative economic geography model," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-17, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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