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CEP discussion paper

Some Causal Effects of an Industrial Policy

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.

Chiara Criscuolo, Ralf Martin, Henry G. Overman and John Van Reenen

Revised January 2016     Paper Number CEPDP1113

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This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Growth programme.