NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Carl Kitchens

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Working Papers

May 2016Ownership and the Price of Residential Electricity: Evidence from the United States, 1935-1940
with Taylor Jaworski: w22254
In this paper, we quantify the difference between public and private prices of residential electricity immediately before and after major federal reforms in the 1930s and 1940s. Previous research found that public prices were lower in a sample of large, urban markets. Based on new data covering over 15,000 markets and nearly all electricity generated for residential consumption, we find the difference between public and private prices was small in 1935 and negligible in 1940 for typical levels of monthly consumption. These findings are consistent with a market for ownership that helped to discipline electricity prices during this period. That is, private rents were mitigated by the threat that municipalities would use public ownership to respond to constituent complaints and public rents w...
March 2016National Policy for Regional Development: Evidence from Appalachian Highways
with Taylor Jaworski: w22073
How effective are policies aimed at integrating isolated regions? We answer this question using the construction of a highway system in one of the poorest regions in the United States. With construction starting in 1965, the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) ultimately consisted of over 2,500 high-grade road miles. Motivated by a model of inter-regional trade we estimate the elasticity of total income with respect to market access, which we then use to evaluate the overall impact of the ADHS. We find that removing the ADHS would have reduced the total income by $45.9 billion or, roughly, 1 percent. Ultimately, the population response to improvements in transportation infrastructure reduced the gains in income per capita, which were equal to $515 (1.4 percent) in the poorest co...
December 2013Flip the Switch: The Spatial Impact of the Rural Electrification Administration 1935-1940
with Price Fishback: w19743
To isolate the impact of access to electricity on local economies, we examine the impact of the Rural Electrification Administration low-interest loans in the 1930s. The REA provided loans to cooperatives to lay distribution lines to farms and aid in wiring homes. Consequently, the number of rural farm homes electrified doubled in the United States within 5 years. We develop a panel data set for the 1930s and use changes within counties over time to identify the effect of the REA loans on a wide range of socio-economic measures. The REA loans contributed significantly to increases in crop output and crop productivity and helped stave off declines in overall farm output, productivity, and land values, but had much smaller effects on nonagricultural parts of the economy. The ex-ante sub...

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