Kahn, Matthew E., and Mansur, Erin T. “How Do Energy Prices, and Labor and Environmental Regulations Affect Local Manufacturing Employment Dynamics? A Regression Discontinuity Approach” (November 2010) (Revised version published in the Journal of Public Economics, vol. 101(C): 105 -114, 2013), WP-209: Full Paper


Manufacturing industries differ with respect to their energy intensity, labor-to-capital ratio and their pollution intensity. Across the United States, there is significant variation in electricity prices and labor and price regulation. This paper uses a regression discontinuity approach to examine whether the basic logic of comparative advantage can explain the geographical clustering of U.S. manufacturing. Using a unified empirical framework, we document that energy-intensive industries concentrate in low electricity price counties, labor-intensive industries avoid pro-union counties, and pollution-intensive industries locate in counties featuring relatively lax Clean Air Act regulation. We use our estimates to predict the likely jobs impacts of regional carbon mitigation efforts.

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