William Gbohoui, Mr. Waikei R Lam, and Victor Duarte Lledo
Growing regional inequality within countries has raised the perception that “some places and people” are left behind. This has prompted a shift toward inward-looking policies and away from pro-growth reforms. This paper presents novel stylized facts on regional inequality for OECD countries. It shows that regional disparity in per-capita GDP is large (even after adjusting for regional price differences), persistent, and widening over time. The paper also finds that rising nationwide income inequality is associated with both rising within-region income inequality and widening average income across regions. The rise in inequality is related to declining incentives for interregional labor mobility, especially for poor households in lagging regions, which are estimated to reduce by as much as one-third in the United States. Against these facts, the paper proposes a framework to identify whether, how and by whom fiscal policies can be used to tackle regional inequality. It outlines conditions under which those policies should be spatially-targeted and illustrates how they can be complementary to conventional means-testing methods in mitigating income inequality.
This paper studies the main factors that explain the low regional mobility in Spain, with a view to identifying policy options at the regional and central level to promote labor mobility. The empirical analysis finds that house prices, labor market conditions, and the pervasiveness of labor market duality at the regional level are the main determinants for Spain’s regional mobility, while labor market institutions and policies play an important role at the national level. Policies that facilitate wage setting flexibility and reduce labor market duality could help enhance the functioning of the labor market, thereby promoting labor mobility. There may be also room for policies to incentivize people to move and provide support through targeted active labor market policies.