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Abstract

The authors of a recent Brookings report argue that Pennsylvania’s lackluster economic performance, including a high rate of loss of young residents (age 25-34), is partly due to fragmented local units of government hindering comprehensive and regional approaches to stimulating economic growth. This assertion is based on casual inference rather than rigorous statistical analysis. In the present study we employ a newly-developed measure of state/county government fragmentation in a county-level econometric migration model to test the Brookings assertion formally. After examining and controlling for the complete set of fac-tors identified from previous studies to motivate youth out-migration, we conclude that government fragmentation acts to keep youth in Pennsylvania rather than drive them out. We conclude that calls for consolidating sub-county government units based on young migration are premature and offer a number of explanations for our finding along with policy implications.

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