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Title: Micro-geographic economic analysis : the theory, techniques, and evidence of micro-level economic policies and their evaluations
Author: Hooton, Christopher Alex
ISNI:       0000 0004 7660 7511
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2016
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The thesis evaluates the effectiveness of micro-geographic economic policies (MGEPs) as tools for urban and economic development. Similar to other place-based policies though with a more refined spatial scale, MGEPs target a variety of incentives and resources at specific geographic areas or points with the goal of stimulating growth and development. Such programs have become increasingly popular since the 1980s largely through Enterprise Zones and other similarly modeled programs, but empirical evidence on their effectiveness remains mixed. It is the goal of the thesis to help the literature reach a clearer conclusion by applying a more holistic evaluation approach that incorporates key theoretical and methodological considerations along with traditional impact measurements. In particular, the thesis develops tests to consider the targeting accuracy of MGEPs, the quality of controls used in their evaluation, and the robustness of popular impact estimation approaches in the literature. To pursue this goal, I separate the thesis into four parts. Part I investigates the current literature in order to identify the underlying theory and design of MGEPs and the rationale behind their use of a micro-geographic scale. Part II identifies and examines the appropriateness of methodological approaches used in previous studies according to the theory outlined in Part I and develops an evaluation framework specifically for MGEPs. In Part III the thesis presents its empirical case studies, which includes seven policies in three cities, and its empirical evaluation strategy, which utilizes four unique counterfactual approaches for each policy in a variety of tests. Part IV presents the empirical results and the conclusions of the research. The thesis finds that MGEPs can and do produce significant and measurable impacts on a micro-geographic sc~le based on their theoretical design. These impacts can be produced in any citywide context and are sustainable over time if a policy remains in place. However, their impacts are mostly small to modest, appear unable to produce absolute changes to an area's trajectory or conditions, and are not self-sustaining if the intervention stops. Furthermore, they can potentially produce negative impacts. Based on its findings, the thesis argues MGEPs should be used as supplemental policies to catalyze already growing areas or to slow decline in particular areas, rather than as primary regeneration strategies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral