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CEP discussion paper
Some Causal Effects of an Industrial Policy
Chiara Criscuolo, Ralf Martin, Henry G. Overman and John Van Reenen
January 2012
Paper No' CEPDP1113:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: R11; H25; L52; L53; O25

Tags: industrial policy; regional policy; employment; investment; productivity

Business support policies designed to raise employment and productivity are ubiquitous around the world. We exploit changes in the area-specific eligibility criteria for a major program to support manufacturing jobs through investment subsidies (Regional Selective Assistance). European state aid rules determine whether a sub-national geographical area is eligible for these subsidies, and we construct instrumental variables for area (and plant) eligibility based on the estimated parameters of these rule changes. We find areas eligible for higher subsidies significantly increase manufacturing jobs and reduce unemployment. An exogenous ten-percentage point increase in an area’s maximum investment subsidy stimulates about a 9% increase in manufacturing employment. The treatment effect exists solely for small firms – large companies appear to “game” the system, accepting subsidies without increasing activity. There are positive effects on investment and employment for incumbent firms but no effect on Total Factor Productivity.