When is a Cost Really a Benefit? Local Welfare Effects and Employment Creation in the Evaluation of Economic Development Programs

When is a Cost Really a Benefit? Local Welfare Effects and Employment Creation in the Evaluation of Economic Development Programs

Abstract:

This article claims that the local welfare effects of employment generation are often treated inadequately in the evaluation of economic development programs. Opportunity costs of labor are often either ignored or overstated, resulting in misleading indicators of welfare changes. Appropriately accounting for these costs requires recognizing employment creation as a benefit in terms of the chain reaction that it sets off in the local labor market. This article uses the concept of “job chains” and describes the different labor market circumstances in which they are likely to form. The local development of these chains, the impacts of in-migrants on their length, and the likelihood of their completion within the local area are all particularly important economic development issues with public policy implications. The article discusses the empirical estimation of these chains and their implications for evaluating the welfare impacts of alternative economic development projects.

Publisher's Version

Last updated on 02/05/2017