Research Area Urban Economics
Policies at the Laender, national and EU levels increasingly focus on cities and urban regions, because agglomerations serve as important drivers of macroeconomic growth. This effect becomes especially evident in cities’ function as seedbeds of creativity and innovation, and in their ability to provide positive agglomeration externalities.
The issues gain even more significance in the context of increasing globalization. Simultaneously cities confront with negative impacts of global structural change and various restrictions, including challenges to municipal financial systems. The IWH research in urban economics (Research Group "The Economic Re-positioning of Post-socialist Cities") aims to analyze these processes, and support the reorganisation of municipal functional compliance with appropriate investigations.
Guest Editorial: Which Regions Benefit from Emerging Industries? Guest Editorial
in: European Planning Studies , No. 11, 2013read publication
Is the 'Central German Metropolitan Region' Spatially Integrated? An Empirical Assessment of Commuting Relations
in: Urban Studies , No. 9, 2016
The 'Central German Metropolitan Region' is a network of cities and their surroundings, located in the three East-German states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. It was founded to bring the bundled strengths of these cities into an inter-municipal cooperation, for making use of the possible advantages of a polycentric region. As theory claims, a precondition for gains from polycentricity is spatial integration of the region. In particular, markets for high skilled labour should be integrated. To assess how this precondition is fulfilled in Central Germany, in the framework of a doubly constrained gravity model the commuting relations between the functional regions of the (until 2013) 11 core cities of the network are analysed. In particular for higher educated employees, the results display that commuting relations are determined not only by distance, but also by the state borders that cross the area.
(De-)Centralization and Voter Turnout: Theory and Evidence from German Municipalities
in: Public Choice , No. 3, 2014
A vast academic literature illustrates that voter turnout is affected by the institutional design of elections (e.g., compulsory voting, electoral system, postal or Sunday voting). In this article, we exploit a simple Downsian theoretical framework to argue that the institutional framework of public good provision – and, in particular, the distribution of political and administrative competences across government levels – likewise affects voters’ turnout decisions by influencing the expected net benefit of voting. Empirically, we exploit the institutional variation across German municipalities to test this proposition, and find supportive evidence.
The Impact of Local Factors on the Scope of Benefits from Public Investment: The Case of Tourism Infrastructure in Saxon Municipalities
in: Urban Research & Practice , No. 3, 2014
Following the transition from socialist central planning economies to market economies in all of the former socialist countries, many regions have had to cope with severe structural changes and economic development problems. To overcome these problems, local governments have tried to invest in new public infrastructure to support the development of new industries. This paper looks at infrastructure that supports tourist activities and argues that the impact of infrastructure generally depends on certain local factors which differ between municipalities. One important factor is whether the local population possesses the relevant complementary factors, in particular the right ‘soft skills’.
Von der Intention zur Gründung - Gründerwettbewerbe in Deutschland
in: List Forum für Wirtschafts- und Finanzpolitik , forthcoming
The number of aspiring entrepreneurs in high-tech industries that succeed in completing the transition from nascent entrepreneurship to new venture creation is too low in Germany. Responding to this unsatisfactory situation, since the mid 1990s, numerous start-up competitions (or business plan competitions) have been established to stimulate the transition from nascent to real entrepreneurship. Those competitions have too major objectives: Increasing start-up probabilities by mobilizing potential entrepreneurs while simultaneously increasing the probability of start-up success of the prospective start-ups. Despite their importance as (policy) measure to encourage entrepreneurship, a discussion of their effectiveness is missing so far. The present article tries to contribute to the understanding of start-up competitions by providing broad empirical evidence on the development, on the regional distribution and on the most important characteristics of existing start-up competitions in Germany. Further, the article presents and discusses most important empirical results regarding the effectiveness of those start-up competitions (and other important factors as well) to act as a driving force behind the transition from nascent entrepreneurship to new venture creation in high-technology industries. Finally, we derive conclusions for an agenda of main future research questions.
Vertical Grants and Local Public Efficiency
in: IWH Discussion Papers , No. 1, 2013
This paper analyses the impact of vertical grants on local public sector efficiency. First, we develop a theoretical model in which the bureaucrat sets the tax price while voters choose the quantity of public services. In this model, grants reduce efficiency if voters do not misinterpret the amount of vertical grants the local bureaucrats receive. If voters suffer from fiscal illusion, i.e. overestimate the amount of grants, our model yields an ambiguous effect of grants on efficiency. Second, we use the model to launch a note of caution concerning the inference that can be drawn from the existing cross-sectional studies in this field: Taking into account vertical financial equalization systems that reduce differences in fiscal capacity, empirical studies based on cross-sectional data may yield a positive relationship between grants and efficiency even when the underlying causal effect is negative. Third, we perform an empirical analysis for the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, which has implemented such a fiscal equalization system. We find a positive relationship between grants and efficiency. Our analysis shows that a careful reassessment of existing empirical evidence with regard to this issue seems necessary.
Does Intermunicipal Cooperation Increase Efficiency? Evidence from the Hessian Wastewater Sector
in: IWH Discussion Papers , No. 11, 2014
This paper analyzes the relationship between intermunicipal cooperation and efficiency of public service provision. The organizational arrangements, including self-provision, joint pro-vision or contracting, affect politicians’ and bureaucrats’ incentives as well as internal transaction costs. Hence, cooperation gains from scale effects have to be weighed against technical inefficiencies. We analyze wastewater disposal for a unique dataset of small and medium-sized Hessian municipalities. We employ a two-stage DEA (DEA = Data Evelopment Analysis) bootstrap approach to calculate relative efficiency measures controlling for organizational arrangements and further environmental variables. Jointly providing municipalities and contractor municipalities score lower in terms of technical efficiency than self-providing and contracting municipalities. The scope for increasing scale efficiency turns out to be limited and hence, only small municipalities may benefit from scale economies from cooperation. The findings suggest that small municipalities should rely on contracting or on joint provision with a high degree of vertical integration.
Grant Dependence, Regulation and the Effects of Formula-based Grant Systems on German Local Governments: A Data Report for Saxony-Anhalt
in: IWH Discussion Papers , No. 2, 2013
Recent empirical studies have found – seemingly − efficiency-enhancing effects of vertical grants on local public service provision. The main purpose of this paper is to prepare an elaborate theoretical and empirical analysis of these contradictory results. Therefore, it investigates if certain fiscal and institutional conditions (fiscal stress, fiscal rank-preserving vertical grant systems, input- and output regulation), that might help to explain these empirical findings, are characteristic of at least some parts of the local government sector or certain regions. The German state of Saxony-Anhalt is chosen for case study purposes. The main results are: First, the local governments suffer from severe fiscal problems such as high grant dependency, low tax revenues and the prevalent inability to finance investments by own resources. Second, the output- and input-regulation density of certain mandatory municipal services (schools, childcare facilities, fire protection) is high. Finally, the most important vertical grant category for local governments, the formula-based grants (“Schlüsselzuweisungen”), can be described as mainly exogenous, unconditional block grants that in most cases preserve the relative fiscal position of the grant recipients.
Does Administrative Status Matter for Urban Growth? Evidence from Present and Former County Capitals in East Germany
in: IWH Discussion Papers , No. 24, 2016
Public sector activities are often neglected in the economic approaches used to analyze the driving forces behind urban growth. The institutional status of a regional capital is a crucial aspect of public sector activities. This paper reports on a quasi-natural experiment on county towns in East Germany. Since 1990, cities in East Germany have demonstrated remarkable differences in population development. During this same period, many towns have lost their status as a county seat due to several administrative reforms. Using a difference-in-difference approach, the annual population development of former county capitals is compared to population change in towns that have successfully held on to their capital status throughout the observed period. The estimations show that maintaining county capital status has a statistically significant positive effect on annual changes in population. This effect is furthermore increasing over time after the implementation of the respective reforms.
Delineation of City Regions Based on Commuting Interrelations: The Example of Large Cities in Germany
in: IWH Discussion Papers , No. 4, 2012
The comparison of cities with regard to their economic or demographic development may yield misleading results, if solely the cities in their administrative borders are the object of consideration. Frequently, historical borders of cities neither conform to the contemporary settlement structures, nor do they consider the mutual dependencies between cities and parts of their hinterland. Therefore, it is often claimed to use city regions as objects of comparison or for the sake of urban planning. Commonly, the delineation of functional regions is based on commuting flows from the municipalities in the hinterland of the core cities directed to the cores. A municipality is regarded as belonging to a certain city region if the share of out-commuters from this municipality to the respective core in the total mass of those employees who reside in that municipality is the largest one, and if this share exceeds a certain threshold value. However, commuting flows in the opposite direction are not considered. The method presented here delineates city regions on the base of bidirectional commuting flows. Hereby, various modifications regarding the characteristics of the employment base, the possibility of overlaps of regions, the formation of polycentric city regions, and of the minimum threshold value of mutual connectivity are applied to the sample of 81 German cities with more than 100 000 inhabitants. Finally, the effects of different kinds of regionalisation on the coefficients of regional specialisation of these cities and city regions are demonstrated.