America’s regional disparities are large and regional convergence has declined if not disappeared. This wildly uneven economic landscape calls for a new look at spatially targeted policies. There are three plausible justifications for place-based policies–agglomeration economies, spatial equity and larger marginal returns to targeting social distress in high distress areas. The second justification is stronger than the first and the third justification is stronger than the second. The enormous social costs of non-employment suggests that fighting long-term joblessness is more important than fighting income inequality. Stronger tools, such as spatially targeted employment credits, may be needed in West Virginia than in San Francisco. Read the full paper here.
Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Spring 2018
Benjamin Austin, Edward Glaeser, and Lawrence Summers