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.
Regional Disparities in Transition Economies: a Typology for East Germany and Poland
in: Post-Communist Economies , 2001read publication
Guest Editorial: Which Regions Benefit from Emerging Industries? Guest Editorial
in: European Planning Studies , No. 11, 2013read publication
Regions as Selection Environments? The Emergence of the Solar Industry in Germany from 1992 to 2008
in: European Planning Studies , No. 11, 2013
The spatial evolution of the German solar industry is analysed in the light of the “window of locational opportunity” and the “selection environment” approach. The paper argues that differences in the regions' ability to promote the emergence of local external economies contribute to increasing regional differentiation in the German structure of the industry. Applied empirical methods enclose longitudinal firm entry and network analysis. A special focus is given upon the realignment processes in the science system. Our findings show a relatively rapid spatial concentration of production in eastern Germany since the year 2000. This process is accompanied by intensified networking between firms and between firms and universities as well as research institutes. The responsiveness of regional institutions and the self-organizing capabilities of the solar firms substantiate some propositions of the “selection environment” approach.
David and Goliath in the Poll Booth: An Empirical Test of the Effect of Absolute and Relative Group Size on Voter Turnout
in: European Journal of Political Economy , 2013read publication
An Assessment of Owner-Occupants' and Tenants' Space-heating Energy Consumption in a Regional Housing Market Context - Evidence from German Planning Regions
in: Energy Economics , 2013read publication
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.