Competing for global capital or local voters? The politics of business location incentives

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The competition for global capital has led to interjurisdictional competition between countries, states and cities as to who can offer the most attractive incentives to firms. In this study, we examine the domestic politics of this competition by focusing on incentive use in the United States from 1999 to 2012. We define incentives as the targeted tax deductions or exemptions that are used to lure businesses into a locality. Drawing on data from municipal incentive programs, we examine how electoral competition shapes the use and oversight of targeted incentives. We find evidence that cities with elected mayors provide larger incentives than non-elected city managers by taking advantage of exogeneity in the assignment of city government institutions and a database of over 2000 investment incentives from 2010 to 2012. We also find that elected mayors enjoy more lax oversight of incentive projects than their appointed counterparts. Our results have important implications for the study of interjurisdictional competition and the role of electoral institutions in shaping economic policy.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jensen, NM; Malesky, EJ; Walsh, M

Published Date

  • August 11, 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 164 / 3-4

Start / End Page

  • 331 - 356

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0048-5829

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s11127-015-0281-8

Citation Source

  • Scopus