Type: Public event

Transformation of America's metropolitan area economies: Lessons from four decades

Date & time

Feb 12, 2014, 4:00-5:30 pm EST


Weill Hall

Free and open to the public.

Read the working paper See the presentation slides


George Fulton, Director, Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics, Department of Economics, Research Professor, Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy, University of Michigan

About the Speaker: George A. Fulton received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan. He is currently the director of the Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics (RSQE) and research professor at the University's Institute for Research on Labor Employment, and the Economy, where he is director of the Center for Labor Market Research. Dr. Fulton has been forecasting economic and fiscal activity in the state of Michigan annually for over three decades. In addition, he is co-director of a project to generate long-term economic and demographic projections for all the counties of Michigan. He is also a principal advisor to the University administration and to the state government on the economic situation in Michigan.

About the Presentation: What factors contribute to the well-being of U.S. metropolitan area economies, and why have some areas been more successful in re-making their economies than others? Can lessons learned from these more successful metropolitan areas help guide longer-term economic development policies in Michigan and elsewhere—or not?

Abstract: With a unique approach and expanded data measures, this study attempts to extend the analysis to date of what leads metro economies in the United States to function the way they do, what makes some of the economies more successful than others, and what policy handles, if any, can improve their profiles. The primary tool for analysis is regression, and two measures, income and employment, are used to represent economic success. Two dimensions of analysis are considered: time and space (geography). For time, we investigate the hypothesis that behavioral relationships can vary in a meaningful way depending on the time period selected for analysis, while other relationships remain robust over time. For space, we compare results for metro areas in the "rust belt" region of the country with those for metro areas collectively in the nation. To address the constraints, or "tyranny," of best practices, we carry out an analysis of residuals to gain insight into which metro areas least conformed to the fit of the general model, and why. The results suggest that findings can be quite sensitive to the time period selected, but also that there are structural and policy-related drivers that are more robust to different time periods and geographies. Among the strongest indicators of the well-being of a metro area are the initial conditions in the metro area, the industry structure, the innovative environment, crime, and educational attainment. Metro areas that least fit the general model tended to have economies influenced by major unique events not easily measured. Read the working paper See the presentation slides Sponsored by: University of Michigan Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP)