What Do We Know about Enterprise Zones?
NBER Working Paper No. 4251 (Also Reprint No. r1817)
In the last decade, most states have targeted certain depressed areas for revitalization by providing a combination of labor and capital tax incentives to firms operating in an "enterprise zone" (EZ). A partial equilibrium model is used to analyze the theoretical effects of various EZ incentives on zone wages and employment. I review empirical evidence on the operational success of EZ programs in Britain and the U.S., and present new evidence from the 1990 Census on the success of the Indiana program. Most British zone businesses are relocations, with an annual cost per job of approximately $15,000. U.S. surveys find that much zone activity comes from expansions of existing businesses, with the average cost per zone job ranging from $4,564 to $13,000 annually (about $31,113 per zone resident job). How do zones perform relative to what would have been their performance in the absence of zone designation? Evidence on this issue is summarized for the state of Indiana, where the zone program appears to have increased inventory investment and reduced unemployment claims. But new evidence based on the 1990 Census of Population indicates that the economic well-being of zone residents in Indiana has not appreciably improved.