Picking 'winners' in space: Impact of spatial targeting on firm performance in China

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3 Scopus citations


This paper examines the spatial patterns of China's industrial encouragement policy and its distributional impact on firm productivity. To this end, I develop separate proxies to measure three popular policy instruments (subsidies, tax holidays, and preferential access to loans). I first show that China's industrial support policies tend to exhibit a prominent spatial feature of targeting firms located in lagging cities with lower density. Taking into account potential endogeneity of industrial policy, unobserved heterogeneity and firm dynamics, quantile regression techniques show that more intense industrial support leads to: (a) a reduction in the productivity of lower-performing firms, especially in denser cities; and (b) a small productivity gain for better performing firms but only in denser cities. Counterfactual analysis further reveals that pursuing an alternative, space-neutral industrial encouragement policy would increase average productivity by 14–16%, in aggregate, but also contribute to significantly higher regional inequality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1025-1046
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Regional Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • China
  • cities
  • firm productivity
  • industry encouragement
  • spatial targeting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


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