Regional subsidies and industrial prospects of lagging regions

1 Jan 2006

Large and sustained differences in economic performance across regions of developing countries have long provided motivation for fiscal incentives designed to encourage firm entry in lagging areas. Empirical evidence in support of these policies, however, has been weak at best. This paper undertakes a direct evaluation of the most prominent fiscal incentive policy in Brazil, the Fundos Constitucionais de Financiamento (Constitutional Funds). In doing so, we exploit valuable features of the Brazilian Ministry of Labor's RAIS data set to address two important elements of firm location decisions that have the potential to bias an assessment of the Funds: (i) firm "family structure" (in particular, proximity to headquarters for vertically integrated firms), and (ii) unobserved spatial heterogeneity (with the potential to confound the effects of the Funds). We find that the pull of firm headquarters is very strong relative to the Constitutional Funds for vertically integrated firms, but that, with non-parametric controls for time invariant spatial heterogeneity, the Funds provide statistically and economically significant incentives for firms in many of the targeted industries.

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