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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis working papers are preliminary materials circulated to stimulate discussion and critial comment.

Regional Economics

Regional Disparities in the Spatial Correlation of State Income Growth, 1977-2002

This paper presents new evidence of spatial correlation in U.S. state income growth. We extend the basic spatial econometric model used in the growth literature by allowing spatial correlation in state income growth to vary across geographic regions. We find positive spatial correlation in income growth rates across neighboring states, but that the strength of this spatial correlation varies considerably by region. Spatial correlation in income growth is highest for states located in the Northeast and the South. Our findings have policy implications both at the state and national level, and also suggest that growth models may benefit from incorporating more complex forms of spatial correlation.

Changing Noise Levels and Housing Prices near the Atlanta Airport

Using hedonic models, we analyze the effects of proximity and noise on housing prices in neighborhoods near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport during 1995-2002. Proximity to the airport is related positively to housing prices. We address complications caused by changes over time in the levels and geographic distribution of noise and by the fact that noise contours are measured infrequently. A general decline in noise boosted housing prices during 1995-2002. After accounting for proximity, house characteristics, and demographic variables, houses in noisier areas sold for less than houses subjected to less noise. Also, the noise discount is larger during 2000-2002 than 1995-1999.

Cities and the Growth of Wages Among Young Workers: Evidence from the NLSY

Human capital-based theories of cities suggest that large, economically diverse urban agglomerations increase worker productivity by increasing the rate at which individuals acquire skills. One largely unexplored implication of this theory is that workers in big cities should see faster growth in their earnings over time than comparable workers in smaller markets. This paper examines this implication using data on a sample of young male workers drawn from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 Cohort. The results suggest that earnings growth does tend to be faster in large, economically diverse local labor markets - defined as counties and metropolitan areas - than in smaller, more specialized markets. Yet, when examined in greater detail, I also find that this association tends to be the product of faster wage growth due to job changes rather than faster wage growth experienced while on a particular job. This result is consistent with the idea that cities enhance worker productivity through a job search and matching process and, thus, that an important aspect of 'learning' in cities may involve individuals learning about what they do well.

No Smoking at the Slot Machines: The Effect of a Smoke-Free Law on Delaware Gaming Revenues

As communities around the nation consider laws restricting smoking in public places, a key political and economic issue that often arises is the effect that such laws have on the sales and profits of particular sectors. The gaming industry has been active in opposition to such ordinances, citing large prospective losses. This article analyzes the revenues of three gaming facilities in Delaware following the implementation of a smoke-free law in December 2002. Revenues are found to have declined significantly at each of the three facilities, with relative magnitudes of losses corresponding to the availability of alternative gaming venues in the region.

The 2001 Recession and the States of the Eighth Federal Reserve District

This paper examines and compares the recent business cycle experiences of the seven states that lie partly or wholly within the Eighth Federal Reserve District (Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee). For the period surrounding the 1990-91 NBER recession, six of the seven states had recessions that were much shorter than for the country as a whole. For the period surrounding the 2001 NBER recession, four states—Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee—entered and exited recession earlier than the country as a whole. Recessions in the other three states began earlier and ended later than for the country as a whole.

The Impact of Local Predatory Lending Laws

Local authorities in North Carolina, and subsequently in at least 23 other states, have enacted laws intending to reduce predatory and abusive lending. While there is substantial variation in the laws, they typically extend the coverage of the Federal Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA) by including home purchase and open-end mortgage credit, by lowering annual percentage rate (APR) and fees and points triggers, and by prohibiting or restricting the use of balloon payments and prepayment penalties. This paper provides a detailed summary of various local predatory lending laws that are effective as of the end of 2004. We also create an index that captures differences in the strength of the local laws along the two important dimensions of coverage and restrictions. In addition, our univariate results show that there is substantial heterogeneity in the observed market responses to the local laws.

Local Market Scale and the Pattern of Job Changes Among Young Men

In finding a career, workers tend to make numerous job changes, with the majority of ‘complex’ changes (i.e. those involving changes of industry) occurring relatively early in their working lives. This pattern suggests that workers tend to experiment with different types of work before settling on the one they like best. Of course, since the extent of economic diversity differs substantially across local labor markets in the U.S. (e.g. counties and metro areas), this career search process may exhibit important differences depending on the size of a worker’s local market. This paper explores this issue using a sample of young male workers drawn from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 Cohort. The results uncover two rather striking patterns. First, the likelihood that a worker changes industries rises with the size and diversity of his local labor market when considering the first job change he makes. Second, however, this association gradually decreases as a worker makes greater numbers of job changes. By the time he makes his fourth change, the likelihood of changing industries significantly decreases with the scale and diversity of the local market. Both results are consistent with the idea that urban areas play an important role in the job matching process.

Smoke-free Law Did Affect Revenue From Gaming in Delaware

A paper recently published in the journal Tobacco Control purports to show that the implementation of a smoking prohibition in Delaware had no statistically significant effect on the revenues of three gaming facilities in that state. After undertaking a thorough analysis of the data, I find that the smoke-free law did affect revenues from gaming in Delaware. Total gaming revenues are estimated to have declined by at approximately $6½ million per month after the implementation of Delaware's Clean Indoor Air Law. This represents a loss nearly 13% relative to average monthly revenues in the year preceding the smoking ban.

Do Casinos Export Bankruptcy?

This paper measures the extent to which destination resort casinos export bankruptcy back to visitors' home states. Previous literature has alluded to this possibility, but to date studies have only examined the influence of local casinos on local bankruptcy. Using various survey data, we calculate the number of visits from each state to casino resort destinations in Nevada, New Jersey, and Mississippi. We find strong evidence that states having more residents who visit out-of-state casino resorts have higher bankruptcy filings. This effect is dominant in the south, suggesting that casinos located in wealthier regions are less likely to export bankruptcy.

Technology and Industrial Agglomeration: Evidence from Computer Usage

Although the association between industrial agglomeration and productivity has been widely examined and documented, little work has explored the possibility that these ‘external’ productivity shifts are the product of more advanced technologies. This paper offers a look at this hypothesis using data on individual-level computer usage across a sample of U.S. metropolitan areas over the years 1984, 1989, 1993, and 1997. The results indicate that, for a wide array of industries at the two-, three-, and four-digit SIC level, an industry’s scale within a metropolitan area is positively associated with the frequency of computer use by its workers. However, in spite of these observable differences in workplace technology, I also find that estimated localization effects on wages are largely not explained by computer usage. Even after controlling for computer use, there remain significant own-industry scale effects in labor earnings.

Do Localization Economies Derive from Human Capital Externalities?

One of the most robust findings emerging from studies of industrial agglomeration is the rise in productivity that tends to accompany it. What most studies have not addressed, however, is the potential role played by human capital externalities in driving this relationship. This paper seeks to do so using data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 US Census covering a collection of 77 (primarily) 3-digit manufacturing industries across a sample of more than 200 metropolitan areas. The analysis generates two primary results. First, a variety of education- and experience-based measures of average human capital rise significantly as an industry's employment in a metropolitan area increases. Hence, clusters of industry do tend to be characterized by larger stocks of human capital. However, second, even after accounting for the level of human capital in a worker's own industry, the overall size of the industry remains strongly associated with wages. Such results suggest that localization economies are largely not the product of knowledge spillovers.

Why Did Income Growth Vary Across States During the Great Depression?

State per capita incomes became more disperse during the contraction phase of the Great Depression, and less disperse during the recovery phase. We investigate the effects of spatial dependence, industrial composition, bank failures and fiscal policies on state income growth during each phase. We find that industrial composition and spatial interdependencies contributed to negative state income growth during the contraction, whereas New Deal spending contributed to positive state income growth during the recovery phase. We find no evidence that differences in bank failure rates or state government expenditures contributed to variation in state income growth rates.

Productivity and the Geographic Concentration of Industry: The Role of Plant Scale

A large body of research has established a positive connection between an industry's productivity and the magnitude of its presence within locally defined geographic areas. This paper examines the extent to which this relationship can be explained by a micro-level underpinning commonly associated with productivity: establishment scale. Looking at data on two-digit manufacturing across a sample of U.S. metropolitan areas, I find two primary results. First, average plant size - defined in terms of numbers of workers - increases substantially as an industry's employment in a metropolitan area rises. Second, results from a decomposition of localization effects on labor earnings into plant-size and plant-count components reveal that the widely observed, positive association between a worker's wage and the total employment in his or her own metropolitan area-industry derives predominantly from the former, not the latter. Localization economies, therefore, appear to be the product of plant-level organization rather than pure population effects.

Industry Localization and Earnings Inequality: Evidence from U.S. Manufacturing

While the productivity gains associated with the geographic concentration of industry (i.e. localization) are by now well-documented, little work has considered how those gains are distributed across individual workers. This paper offers evidence on the connection between total employment and the relative wage earnings of high- and low-skill workers (i.e. inequality) within two-digit manufacturing industries across the states and a collection of metropolitan areas in the U.S. between 1970 and 1990. Using measures of overall, between-education-group, and residual inequality, I find that wage dispersion falls significantly as industry employment expands.

The Value of Foreclosed Property

This paper examines the expected price appreciation of distressed property and compares it to the prevailing metropolitan area appreciation rate. The results show that the simple fact that the property is foreclosed indicates that it will be sold at a substantial discount (appreciate less than expected). The magnitude of the discount is sensitive to loan characteristics, legal restrictions, housing market conditions, and the bargaining position of the selling institution.

Worker Turnover, Industry Localization, and Producer Size

Empirically, large employers have been shown to devote greater resources to filling vacancies than small employers. Following this evidence, this paper offers a theory of producer size based on labor market search, whereby a key factor in the determination of producer's total employment is the ease with which workers can be found to fill jobs that are, periodically, vacated. Since the geographic localization of industry has long been conjectured to facilitate the search process, the model provides an explanation for the observed positive association between average producer size and the magnitude of an industry's presence within local labor markets.

Cities, Skills, and Inequality

The surge in U.S. wage inequality over the past several decades is now commonly attributed to an increase in the returns paid to skill. Although theories differ with respect to why, specifically, this increase has come about, many agree that it is strongly tied to the increase in the relative supply of skilled (i.e. highly educated) workers in the U.S. labor market. A greater supply of skilled labor, for example, may have induced skill-biased technological change or generated greater stratification of workers by skill across firms or jobs. Given that metropolitan areas in the U.S. have long possessed more educated populations than non-metropolitan areas, these theories suggest that the rise in both the returns to skill and wage inequality should have been particularly pronounced in cities. Evidence from the U.S. Census over the period 1950 to 1990 supports both implications.

Racial Profiling or Racist Policing?: Bounds Tests in Aggregate Data

State-wide reports on police traffic stops and searches summarize very large populations, making them potentially powerful tools for identifying racial bias, particularly when statistics on search outcomes are included. But when the reported statistics conflate searches involving different levels of police discretion, standard tests for racial bias are not applicable. This paper develops a model of police search decisions that allows for non-discretionary searches and derives tests for racial bias in data that mixes different search types. Our tests reject unbiased policing as an explanation of the disparate impact of motor-vehicle searches on minorities in Missouri.

The Information Content of Regional Employment Data for Forecasting Aggregate Conditions

We consider whether disaggregated data enhances the efficiency of aggregate employment forecasts. We find that incorporating spatial interaction into a disaggregated forecasting model lowers the out-of-sample mean-squared-error from a univariate aggregate model by 70 percent at a two-year horizon.

A Spatial Analysis of State Banking Regulation

We use a spatial model to investigate a state's choice of branch banking and interstate banking regimes as a function of the regime choices made by other states and other variables suggested in the literature. We extend the basic spatial econometric model by allowing spatial dependence to vary by geographic region. Our findings reveal that spatial effects have a large, statistically significant impact on state regulatory regime decisions. The importance of spatial correlation in the setting of state banking policies suggests the need to consider spatial effects in empirical models of state policies in general.

Spatial Probit and the Geographic Patterns of State Lotteries

We implement a spatial probit model to differentiate states with a lottery from those without a lottery. Our analysis extends the basic spatial probit model by allowing spatial dependence to vary across geographic regions. We also separate the spatial effects of neighbors versus non-neighbors. The methodology provides consistent and efficient coefficient estimation in light of the simultaneity in spatial dependence. We find evidence of spatial dependence and spatial heterogeneity in lottery usage, and we find that spatial patterns differ significantly by geographic region. The importance of spatial dependence in state lottery usage suggests the need to consider spatial effects in empirical models examining the use of any policy tool by subnational governmental units.

Nonlinear Effects of School Quality on House Prices

We reexamine the relationship between school quality and house prices and find it to be nonlinear. Unlike most studies in the literature, we find that the price premium parents must pay to buy a house associated with a better school increases as school quality increases. This is true even after controlling for neighborhood characteristics, such as the racial composition of neighborhoods, which is also capitalized into house prices. In contrast with previous studies that use the boundary discontinuity approach, we find that the price premium from school quality remains substantially large, particulary for neighborhoods associated with high-quality schools.

State Government Finances: World War II to the Current Crisis

This article will explore the extent, causes, and proposed solutions of the current fiscal crisis from a historical perspective of state finance. Although the current fiscal crisis is severe, it becomes more difficult to assess unless one has a more complete understanding of the historical changes that have occurred in state revenue streams. This article will address the role of major revenue sources in the context of the current slowdown and also investigate how reliance on various revenue sources has changed over the past 50 years. The role of non-traditional revenue sources, such as state lotteries and casino gambling, will also be discussed. The article further addresses various fiscal institutions, such as tax and expenditure limitation laws, rainy day funds, and balanced budget rules, and explores the role each play in state budgeting and finance.

U. S. Regional Business Cycles and the Natural Rate of Unemployment

Estimates of the natural rate of unemployment are important in many macroeconomic models used by economists and policy advisors. This paper shows how such estimates might benefit from closer attention to regional developments. Regional business cycles do not move in lockstep and greater dispersion among regions can affect estimates of the natural rate of unemployment. There is microeconomic evidence that employers are more reluctant to cut wages than they are to raise them. Accordingly, this means that the relationship between wage inflation and vacancies is convex: an increase in vacancies raises wage inflation at an increasing rate. Our empirical results are consistent with this and indicate that if all else had remained constant, the reduction in the dispersion of regional unemployment rates between 1982 and 2000 would have meant a two-percentage point drop in the natural rate of aggregate unemployment.

Business Cycle Phases in U.S. States

The U.S. aggregate business cycle is often characterized as a series of distinct recession and expansion phases. We apply a regime-switching model to state-level coincident indexes to characterize state business cycles in this way. We find that states differ a great deal in the levels of growth that they experience in the two phases: Recession growth rates are related to industry mix, whereas expansion growth rates are related to education and age composition. Further, states differ significantly in the timing of switches between regimes, indicating large differences in the extent to which state business cycle phases are in concord with those of the aggregate economy. <a href="/wp/2003/2003-011_recession_prob.pdf">State recession probabilities (PDF)</a> <b>Quarter-by-quarter geographic pattern of national recessions</b> <a href="/wp/2003/2003-011_recession1.ppt">1979.I to 1983:II (PPT)</a> <a href="/wp/2003/2003-011_recession2.ppt">1989.II to 1992:II (PPT)</a> <a href="/wp/2003/2003-011_recession3.ppt">2000:III to 2002:II (PPT)</a> The quarter being illustrated is indicated at the top of each slide. The number of quarters prior to or after an NBER recession is indicated at the bottom of each slide. States in recession during the quarter are shaded, those in expansion are unshaded. If the background is shaded, the country as a whole is was recession during that quarter.

Structural Breaks and Regional Disparities in the Transmission of Monetary Policy

Using a regional VAR, we find large differences in the effects of monetary policy shocks across regions of the United States. We also find that the region-level effects of monetary policy differ a great deal between the pre-Volcker and Volcker-Greenspan periods in terms of their depth and length. The two sample periods also yield very different rankings of the regions in terms of the effects of monetary policy. We find that regional difference in the depths of recession are related to the banking concentration, whereas differences in the total cost of recession are related to industry mix. Finally, we demonstrate that the differences between the two sample periods are due to changes in the mechanism by which monetary policy shocks are propagated.

Political Allocation of Agriculture Disaster Payments in the 1990s

Legislation passed during the 1990s attempted to move U.S. agriculture disaster relief to a more market oriented process. The failure of this legislation has been attributed to the political system behind agricultural disaster relief. This paper explores the impact of political influence on the allocation of U.S. direct agriculture disaster payments. The results reveal that disaster payments are not based solely on need, but are higher in those states represented by public officials key to the allocation of relief. The effectiveness of legislation aimed at promoting more efficient disaster payments systems, such as crop insurance, over direct cash payments is also examined.

Does Consumer Sentiment Predict Regional Consumption?

This paper tests the ability of consumer sentiment to predict retail spending at the state level. The results here suggest that, although there is a significant relationship between sentiment measures and retail sales growth in several states, consumer sentiment exhibits only modest predictive power for future changes of retail spending. Measures of consumer sentiment, however, contain additional explanatory power aside from the information available in other indicators. We also find that by restricting our attention to fluctuations in retail sales that occur at the business cycle frequency we can uncover a significant relationship between consumer sentiment and retail sales growth in many additional states. In light of these results, we conclude that the practical value of sentiment indices to forecast consumer spending at the state level is, at best, limited.

Entrepreneurship and the Deregulation of Banking

This paper presents evidence that banking deregulation led to decreases in entrepreneurship in some U.S. regions, and to increases in others. This is contrary to recent research that found an unambiguous positive relationship.

Tax Competition and Tax Harmonization with Evasion.

We examine a two-jurisdiction tax competition environment where local governments can only imperfectly monitor where agents pay taxes and risk-averse individuals my choose to cross borders to pay lower taxes in a neighboring location. In the game between local authorities, when communities differ in size, in equilibrium the smaller community sets lower taxes and attracts agents from the larger jurisdiction. With identical communities, tax rates must be equal. Whenever the smaller community benefits from tax harmonization, the larger one will also. If the high-tax community chooses a monitoring policy, the local population splits into groups of tax avoidance and compliance.


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