Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Policy Studies

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Gregory Pickett

Committee Member

Dr. Gerald Dwyer

Committee Member

Dr. Joseph Parker

Committee Member

Dr. Rachna Tewari


In an effort to promote economic development, state-level policymakers have exercised discretion over the use of public money to incentivize subsidy packages for decades. Estimates suggest state governments spend approximately $50 billion annually on these initiatives. However, there has been little empirical research about the political and economic benefits received by local residents from these subsidy programs. This dissertation analyzes the effectiveness of state subsidy policy by considering induced economic spillover effects and population attrition rates. It examines how subsidy distribution is related to employment rates, average weekly wages, and population attrition. The project offers two methodological innovations. First, to look beyond the economic benefits of subsidies, I compile an original dataset of changes in population at the state and local levels. Second, using this dataset, I am able to model net migration flows as a measure of population attrition. By examining differences between urban and rural areas in the economic and political benefits of subsidy programs, I also contribute to the growing literature about the place-based component of U.S. political polarization. From a normative standpoint, I open a conversation about whether such subsidy programs might affirm – or erode – public trust in government through their implications for the accountability of policymakers.



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