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Three essays in regional growth, distribution, and resilience




Kacher, Nicholas J., author
Weiler, Stephan, advisor
Bernasek, Alexandra, committee member
Shields, Martin, committee member
Thilmany, Dawn, committee member

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This work delves into two significant but less understood topics in regional labor economics. The first contribution is to growing literature examining the effects of business dynamism on regional resilience. Significant attention has, understandably, been paid to understanding why the impact of and recovery from the 2008 recession has varied across regions. Chapters 1 and 2 extend to the question of regional resilience a hypothesis that gross rates of local establishment openings, or "churn," may affect local economic performance over a business cycle. In the US, higher-churn areas are found to experience faster average employment growth over the decade spanning the recession, but with more cyclical volatility. Churn is not positively correlated with median household income growth or poverty reduction at a county level. A novel cross-country analysis reveals that in the UK, local authorities with higher churn prior to the recession did weather the financial crisis slightly better, although data limitations restrict the direct comparability between the US and UK cases. Chapter 3 turns to the growth of self-employment in the US, motivated by two observations: first, that growth in the self-employment share has been regionally heterogeneous; and second, that theory suggests workers in wage-and-salary occupations exert limited agency over their working hours. This paper investigates whether average local working hours influence subsequent changes in the county self-employment share. I find a U-shaped relationship between working hours and self-employment growth: counties with working hours furthest from the mean experienced the fastest growth in local self-employment share, adding a new wrinkle to the running debate over whether the "gig economy" is driven by opportunity or necessity.


2019 Summer.
Includes bibliographical references.

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working hours


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