Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Three Essays in Regional Economics
by Stephens, Heather Marie, Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 2012, 152; 10631317
Abstract (Summary)

In the United States, the economic recession and the ongoing economic restructuring have led researchers and policy makers to revisit their assumptions about the drivers of economic growth. My research seeks to understand the drivers of economic growth in two regions of the United States that have suffered the most during the recent period—Appalachia and the Great Lakes Region.

Appalachia is a predominantly rural region with a long history of high poverty and economic isolation. Because this region has low levels of human capital and the other resources that are typically associated with economic growth, in Chapter 1, I consider whether entrepreneurs can contribute to growth in that region. Using proprietor and small business shares as proxies for entrepreneurship and self-employment, and employing instrumental variables (IVs) and other approaches to control for endogeneity, I find that self-employment is positively associated with employment and income growth. This suggests that building entrepreneurial capacity may be one of the few economic development strategies with positive payoffs in the Appalachian region.

The Great Lakes region is comprised of eight states which border the Great Lakes and which historically benefited economically from this proximity. The eastern portion of the Great Lakes region is the heart of the nation's rust belt. With the decline of manufacturing and the ongoing economic restructuring, this region's economy has suffered. Policymakers are interested in whether there are economic development opportunities associated with access to the Great Lakes and their natural and recreational amenities and if and how environmental and industrial disamenities might affect this potential.

In Chapter 2, I look at county-level population and employment growth in the Great Lakes region, drawing on the Tiebout (1956) notion that “people vote with their feet” and reside in places with particular bundles of economic and site-specific public goods and amenities, which may include urban, natural, and environmental amenities (or disamenities). I find little evidence that lake amenities are associated with overall population and employment growth in the region. However, consistent with natural amenities being normal or superior goods, I find that individuals with higher human capital are more likely to migrate toward counties located on one of the Great Lakes.

By using county-level data I may not be able to distinguish between those households that live directly on or within a short distance of one of the Great Lakes and those that live within a coastal county but farther from the lake. Thus, in Chapter 3, I use individual housing transactions for Northeast Ohio to examine more closely the value of lake amenities. This analysis will use the Rosen (1976) hedonic framework in which, within a labor market, housing prices can be used to uncover the values associated amenities and disamenities. Using a unique dataset that includes detailed geographically defined amenities and disamenities, I find that there is strong value from being immediately next to Lake Erie, but little evidence of additional willingness to pay by households in this region for other lake-related amenities.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Partridge, Mark, Irwin, Elena
Commitee: Klaiber, H. Allen
School: The Ohio State University
Department: Agricultural, Environmental and Developmental Economics
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Economics
Keywords: Economic development, Entrepreneurship, Great Lakes, Housing demand, Natural amenities, Regional economics
Publication Number: 10631317
ISBN: 9780355015775
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