CFDP 1638

Do Local Economic Development Programs Work? Evidence from the Federal Empowerment Zone Program


Publication Date: February 2008

Pages: 58


This paper evaluates the impact of Round I of the federal urban Empowerment Zone (EZ) program on neighborhood level labor and housing market outcomes over the period 1994-2000. Using four decades of Census data in conjunction with information on the proposed boundaries of rejected EZs, we find that neighborhoods receiving EZ designation experienced substantial improvements in labor market conditions and moderate increases in rents relative to rejected and future zones. These effects were accompanied by small changes in the demographic composition of the neighborhoods, though evidence from disaggregate Census tabulations suggests that these changes account for little of the observed improvements.


Program evaluation, Local economic development, Empowerment zones

JEL Classification Codes:  H2, O1, R58, C21