The Place-Based Turn in Federal Policymaking, 1990–2015

Laura M. Tach, Cornell University
Alexandra Cooperstock, Cornell University
Samuel Dodini, Cornell University
Emily Parker , Cornell University

Although concentrated neighborhood disadvantage is a durable feature of the US landscape, government officials have reinvested in certain areas via place-based initiatives to expand economic and social opportunity. In this paper, we assemble a novel dataset of federal place-based funding across multiple policy domains to estimate the geographic reach of such investments. We document over $365 billion in federal funding for place-based initiatives between 1990 and 2015. Most went to metropolitan areas, but differences between metro and rural areas are smaller on a per capita basis. Virtually all counties received some funding, but there is substantial variation among neighborhoods. About one in ten neighborhoods received no funding, while 25 received more than $250 million each. We evaluate hypotheses about community characteristics associated with greater investment and find that more place-based funding went to areas with greater initial levels of disadvantage, more residential segregation, and a larger density of nonprofit organizations.

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 Presented in Session 8. Economy, Labor Force, Education, & Inequality