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The Local Impact of Containerization
We investigate how containerization impacts local economic activity. Containerization is premised on a simple insight: packaging goods for waterborne trade into a standardized container makes them dramatically cheaper to move. We use a novel cost-shifter instrument -- port depth pre-containerization -- to contend with the non-random adoption of containerization by ports. Container ships sit much deeper in the water than their predecessors, making initially deep ports cheaper to containerize. Consistent with New Economic Geography models, we find that counties near container ports grow an additional 70 percent from 1950 to 2010. Gains predominate in counties with initially low population density and manufacturing.
AUTHORS: Brooks, Leah; Gendron-Carrier, Nicolas; Rua, Gisela
Spending within limits: Evidence from municipal fiscal restraints
This paper studies the role of a constitutional rule new to the literature: a limit placed by a city on its own ability to tax or spend. We find that such a limit exists in at least 1 in 8 cities, and that limits are not adopted in response to high levels of or variability in taxation. After limit adoption, municipal revenue growth declines by 16 to 22 percent. Our results suggest that institutional constraints may be effective when representative government falls short of the median voter ideal.
AUTHORS: Brooks, Leah; Halberstam, Yosh; Phillips, Justin