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object(Timber\Post)#3711 (44) { ["ImageClass"]=> string(12) "Timber\Image" ["PostClass"]=> string(11) "Timber\Post" ["TermClass"]=> string(11) "Timber\Term" ["object_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["custom"]=> array(5) { ["_wp_attached_file"]=> string(12) "R_411JKR.pdf" ["wpmf_size"]=> string(6) "443148" ["wpmf_filetype"]=> string(3) "pdf" ["wpmf_order"]=> string(1) "0" ["searchwp_content"]=> string(89551) "Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy Jed Kolko, David Neumark, and Marisol Cuellar Mejia Supported with funding from the David A. Coulter Family Foundation and the Donald Bren Foundation http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 2 Summary Many national organizations compile and publish state -level business climate rankings or “ indexes.” These indexes are based on measures of state policies and other factors that are thought to affect the health of businesses and hence the economic prosperity of a state . These indexes tend to fall into two groups , those that consider the business climate in terms of productivity, including measures of the quality of life and human capital, and t hose that emphasize taxes, regulation, and other costs of doing business. California ranks poorly on many indexes , particularly those focusing on taxes and costs . At the same time, the state’s employment, wages, and output continue to grow at or above the national average, raising the question of why California’s economic performance is better than its business climate rankings suggest it should be, and also what th is implies for the usefulness of these rankings. We find that business climate indexes that focus on productivity exhibit essentially no relationship to economic growth. In contrast, some of the indexes that focus on taxes and costs demonstrate a clear relationship with employment growth and, to a less er extent, wage and G ross State Product growth. We find that a few sub -indexes, each capturing a narrower set of policies than the overall business indexes they belong to, exhibit a stronger relationship with economic growth than do the broader indexes. The sub -indexes we examined indicate that economic growth is associated with a smaller share of government spending on welfare and transfer payments and also a more uniform and simple corporate income tax structure. These factors —not the overall tax rate or the overall size of government —demonstrate the strongest relationship with economic growth in our analysis. But factors beyond the control of policy —for instance , a state’s weather, population density, and industry mix —demonstrate a stronger relationship with economic growth than the measures included even in the tax -and -cost -focused indexes. California’s poor ranking among the business climate indexes focusing on taxes and costs is offset by natural advantages (in part icular , good weather ), and these favorable factors enable California’s economy to perform reasonably well. In sum, many concerns about the business climate in California are probably overstated, since factors beyond the control of policymakers matter more in determining why some states experience stronger economic gains than others. Still, our findings imply that a better business climate would promote faster economic growth in California. Contents Summary 2 Contents 3 Tables 4 Figures 5 Introduction 6 The Debate over California’s Business Climate 7 Business Climate Rankings 8 The Puzzle of California’s Economic Growth 12 Economic Growth: The Influence of Non-Policy Factors 13 Findings: Business Climate Indexes, Policy Factors, and Economic Growth 16 Explaining the California Puzzle: Why Does California Do Better Than Its Policies Predict? 18 Rela tionship between Business Climate Sub- Indexes and Economic Growth 21 Taxes 23 Welfare and Transfer Payments 23 Other Policy Areas 24 Conclusions 26 References 28 About the Authors 31 Acknowledgments 31 Technical appendices to this paper are available on the PPIC website: http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/other/411JKR_appendix.pdf http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 4 Tables Table 1. State rankings vary widely across indexes 9 Table 2. Indexes emphasize different factors in determining their business climate rankings 11 Table 3. Taxes -and-costs indexes predict economic growth but productivity indexes do not 16 Table 4. Sub-indexes focus more narrowly on the specific types of policies that affect economic performance 22 http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 5 Figures Figure 1. California’s business climate ranks favorably on measures of productivity but poorly in terms of taxes and costs 12 Figure 2. Taxes -and-cost business climate indexes predict growth, but other non-policy factors are more important 19 Figure 3. California’s natural advantages more than offset unfavorable business climate condtions in the state 20 http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 6 Introduction One of the fundamental goal s of government policy is to encourage economic growth , and state government s use a variety of strategies to encourage this growth—for example, job training, education, and infrastructure development, as well as trying to lighten the burden of business regulation and taxes. At the same time, policies seeking to protect workers, promote equity, improve the environment, or achieve other social goals are sometimes seen as discouraging economic growth , especially if they require taxes or regulation s that impose costs on businesse s or reduce people’s incentives to work . However, t hese same taxes and regulations might improv e quality of life and make c ertain locales more attractive to businesses and workers —ultimately even contributing to economic growth . Thus , t he relationship between any particular policy and economic growth is complex. And the complexity increases when we consider all of the policies that states might use to encourage economic growth and all of the policies designed to achieve other ends but that nonetheless may also affect economic performance. In spite of this difficulty, w e must consider these policies together rather than in isolation because they seldom operate in a vacuum . For instance, taxes that increase the cost of doing business may also finance investments—s uch as transportation infrastructure—that support business growth . Although determining the right balance between economic growth and other goals must be addressed through the polit ical process , a crucial research question underlying the policy debate is the degree to which taxes, regulations, and other policies hinder or promote business development and economic performance. In this re port, we examine the relationships between a large set of business climate indexes , developed and published by a variety of national organizations, and several measures of economic performance. These indexes summarize numerous policies and other factors likely to affect economic growth and have become an important part of the policy debate about growth. We present detailed information on what the indexes capture , analyze their relationship with e conomic growth, and assess why some business climate indexes are more strongly associated with the economic outcomes we study than others are. We also broaden the analysis to consider other factors —such as climate and geography —that may affect these same economic outcomes and which, if ignored, may obscure the true relationship between business climate indexes and economic performance. We use the results of our analysis to provide a better understanding of California’s business climate , looking closely at why California’s economic achievement is better than some of its business climate rankings would imply. Because the business climate indexes tend to be broad, encompassing many different types of policies and other measures, we also examine the “sub -indexe s” of several indexes , some of which turn out to be more strongly associated with economic growth. These sub -indexes focus on narrower, better-defined sets of policies, such as regulatory measures, corporate income tax structure, and welfare and income-transfer policies. Our objective is to provide insights for state policymakers interested in identifying policy changes that could increase economic growth in the short - or medium- term. We also identify which sets of poli cies have little relationship with economic growth, and we compare how strongly business climate indexes and non- policy factors beyond states’ immediate control are associated with economic performance. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 7 The Debate over California’s Business Climate The question of how government policies affect economic growth is often couched in terms of the business climate, especially at the state level ; and a cottage industry of state business climate rankings or indexes continues to fuel this debate. 1 Numerous organizations publish business climate rankings, including the Progressive Policy Institute ; the Information, Technology and Innovation Foundation, in conjunction with the Kauffman Foundation ; the Corporation for Enterprise Development ; the Tax Foundation ; the Milken Institute ; the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council ; the Pacific Research Institute ; and the Cato Institute. 2 These business climate indexes figure prominently in policy debates , perhaps most commonly in arguments for lowering taxes and relaxing regulations in states that do poorly on indexes that emphasize these policies . 3 Conversely, states that do well on such indexes—presumably because taxes, for example, are low —often tout these indexes or rankings in trying to attract businesses. 4 Although debate often focuses on a particular ranking that supports one point of view, actual characterizations of states’ business climates are often more nuanced. S ome states ranked poorly in terms of taxes are ranked favorably along other dimensions, such as quality of life measures, including crime rates and health, or on education and human capital . Although these latter types of business climate indexes seem to figure less prominently in policy debate s, states tout these rankings as well, 5 sometimes in the context of criti cizing indexes that focus only on taxes and regulations or other dimensions on which a state does not fare well . 6 P oliticians and organizations use these business climate indexes —often selectively —to support their point of view. Testifying before Governor Schwarzenegger’s Commission on the 21 st Century Economy, the California Chamber of Commerce —in arguing that “Any changes to the tax system should be undertaken primarily with the health of the economy in mind” —cited the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate index, which rank s California 48 out of 50 states, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council’s Small Business Survival index, which ranks California 48 out of 51 states, and CFO Magazine’s State Tax Survey , which rank s California the worst i n the country. 7 Yet the Chamber’s testimony fail s to mention the State New 1 For simplicity, we refer to “ indexes.” To clarify the language we use below, a higher value of the index implies a better rating of the business climate —so that the ranking is closer to 1. 2 We use the rankings from these organizations as well as others in our empirical analysis. 3 For recent examples of such arguments, see http://www.cagop.org/index.cfm/capitol -update_785.htm (viewed November 2, 2009), http://cssrc.us/web/19/publications.aspx?id=5547&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1 (viewed November 2, 2009), http://www.mpnnow.com/opinions/guest_essays/x624508858/New -study-affirms-New -Yorks-woeful-tax -climate (viewed No vember 2, 2009), http://www.platteinstitute.org/research/comments/tax -foundation-nebraskas-business-tax-climate -improving (viewed March 25, 2011 ), and http://www.njprofoundation.org/pdf/ffd4.pdf (viewed November 2, 2009) . 4 For recent examples, see http://www.dad69.state.pa.us/revenue/cwp/view.asp?A=104&Q=258387 (viewed November 2, 2009), http://www.sdreadytowork.com/dbisd/ (viewed November 2, 2009), and http://www.whywyoming.org/about.aspx (viewed November 2, 2009). 5 See, for example, http://www.georgia.org/WhyGeorgia/ProBusinessAtmosphere/Pages/Rankings.aspx (viewed November 2, 2009), http://www.michigan.gov/gov/0,1607,7 -168 -46485 -168205 --,00.html (viewed N ovember 2, 2009), and http://www.state.ny.us/governor/press/pdf/press_0608091.pdf (viewed November 2, 2009). 6 See, for example, http://www.wslc.org/reports/Outside -EC-1.pdf (viewed November 2, 2009), http://www.aradvocates.org/assets/PDFs/Economic -Development -in-Arkansas -8-5-09.pdf (viewed March 25, 2011 ), http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2009/10/02/business-climate -rankings-are -meaningless/ (viewed November 2, 2009), and http://www.minnpost.com/community_voices/2009/05/14/8787/minnesotas_business_climate_and_the_budget (viewed November 2, 2009). 7 See http://www.calchamber.com/headlines/pages/calchambertestimonytotaxcommissioneconomyjobsclimateshould bepriorityin examiningcaliforniataxstructure.aspx (viewed November 3, 2009). http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 8 Economy Index, which ranked California eighth in the nation in 2008, or the Corporation for Enterprise Development’s Development Report Card for the States- Business Vitality index, which ranked the state fourth in 2007. Such oft -conflicting information and a discussion of state business climate indexes are the jumping off point for this report. W e examine numerous business climate indexes and their sub -indexes in order to ass ess what they say about California’s business climate and to better understand which factors contribute to a healthy business climate . B usiness Climate Rankings To explore the different and sometimes conflicting views of a state’s business climate, we gathered detailed information on eleven well-known business climate indexe s covering a wide variety of policies . We also collected information on the sub -index rankings of as many of the indexes as possible . Appendix A describes these indexes and sub-indexes in detail. As the discussion in the preceding section suggests, these eleven indexes rank states quite differently because they weight different factors . Table 1 shows rankings for California and other states often compared to California, whether because of their size (Texas, New York, Florida) or proximity (Arizona, Nevada, Oregon). 8 California’s rank ranges from a high of 4 th on two indexes to a low of 47 th on two other indexes. 9 Such differences across states are not uncommon. In fact, across all 50 states, every state but one ranks in the top 20 on at least one index, and every state ranks in the bottom half on at least one index. 10 New York is similar to C alifornia in having both favorable and unfavorable rankings among these eleven indexes , and generally by the same indexes; for example, both states are ranked poorly—indeed, among the worst —by SBTC, SBSI, CDBI, EFI, and EFINA , yet are ranked near the top b y some of the other indexes . Texas, in contrast, is ranked high by the same indexes that give low ratings to California and New York but is ranked lower by s ome of the indexes that give California and New York a relatively high rating (for example, DRCS -DC and DRCS -P) . A nd the same is true for other states not shown in the table . Based on these indexes, nearly every state could be praised for having a good business climate or criticized for having a bad one, using evidence from at least one of these indexes. With so many ways to describe the business climate, the right question is not only whether the business climate matter s for economic growth , but also which, if any, of the business climate indexes help predict economic growth, and which policies captured by the business climate indexes are the most important predictors of economic growth. 8 The business climate rankings are defined in the notes to the table. 9 For any given index (except FPRCNG), states tend to rank similarly over time. Thus the average rank for a state on a given index over time is similar to that state’s rank on that index in any one year. 10 For the rankings for all states, see Table A4 in Appendix A . http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 9 TABLE 1 State rankings vary widely across indexes NOTES: The table presents state rankings between 1992 and 2009, averaged across years. For any given index (except FPRCNG), states tend to rank similarly over time. Thus the average rank for a state on a given index over time is similar to that state’s rank on that index in any one year. See Table A4 in Appendix A for a complete listing of rankings for all states. SNEI = State New Economy Index. DRCS -P = Development Report Card for the States -Performance DRCS -DC = Development Report Card for the States -Development Capacity DRCS -BV = Development Report Card for the States -Business Vitality SCI = State Competitiveness Index SBTC = State Business Tax Climate Index SBSI = Small Business Survival Index CDBI = Cost of Doing Business Index EFI = Economic Freedom Index EFINA = Economic Freedom Index of North America FPRCNG = Fiscal Policy Report Card on the Nation's Governors. State SNEI DRCS -P DRCS-DC DRCS -BV SCI SBTC SBSI CDBI EFI EFINA FPRCNG Mean Min Max California 4 31 17 4 20 45 46 47 47 43 31 31 4 47 Arizona 17 33 37 33 30 27 23 27 19 7 27 25 7 37 Florida 21 31 33 28 32 5 8 28 27 6 16 21 5 33 Nevada 26 27 42 32 35 4 2 32 13 16 20 23 2 42 New York 12 23 18 21 35 49 45 49 50 48 12 33 12 50 Oregon 15 23 10 28 14 9 40 20 33 37 39 24 9 40 Texas 15 47 32 6 25 7 7 26 19 5 13 18 5 47 http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 10 The contradictory rankings among these indexes occur because each index emphasizes different variables or components in measuring the quality of the business climate. We examined the emphasis or weight that each of these indexes places on these variables and present our findings in Table 2, grouping the individual variables under three broad categories: taxes and costs; productivity, and other. 11 The table shows the percentage of emphasis or weight (out of 100) that each index places on the three broad categories and the 14 types of variables they include. 12 As indicated by the shading in t he table, the eleven indexes we examined are clustered into two groups, based on the variables they emphasize. The first five indexes (SNEI, DRCS -P, DRCS -DC, DRCS -BV, and SCI) focus most of their attention on productivity or quality of life, and we refer to this set of indexes as the “productivity” cluster. The next five indexes (SBTC, SBSI, CDBI, EFI, and EFINA) focus on taxes and other cost components, and we refer to this set of indexes as the “taxes and costs” cluster. 13, 14 11 The “other” category includes resource efficiency, environment measures, and international tr ade and migration measures. 12 See Appendix A for additional details. Percentages shown in the table are calculated as follows: Based on review of the indexes, we created 14 categories to classify each index’s underlying components, with the goals of trying to be as accurate as possible in capturing how each index classifies its underlying variables, and making comparisons across indexes in terms of their components. We use d the list of variables in each index and assigned to each variable a weight according to each index’s methods. 13 The eleventh index (FPRCNG) places considereable weight on taxes, but also considers size of government important, which make s this index quite independent of the other five in the “taxes and costs” cluster. 14 Note that we gro up ”welfare and transfer payments” with taxes and costs even though we treat equity outcomes as contributing to quality of life. But net of the income distribution, higher welfare and transfer payments implies more redistribution via taxes. The latter impl ies more deadweight loss from taxation, and, perhaps more importantly, greater work disincentives, which can lower the level of econom ic activity. In addition (and likely reflecting this argument), as Table 2 shows, and as is explained in more detail in Ap pendix A, the indexes that emphasize taxes and costs are the only ones that put any weight on welfare and transfer payments. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 11 TABLE 2 Indexes emphasize different factors in determining their business climate rankings Percent of emphasis on e ach factor SNEI DRCS -P DRCS-DC DRCS -BV SCI SBTC SBSI CDBI EFI EFINA FPRCNG Taxes and costs 4 21 100 94 100 100 100 100 Cost of doing business (excluding taxes) 4 9 9 80 1 22 Size of government 7 9 15 22 67 Tax rates and tax burden 2 100 47 20 19 33 33 Regulation and litigation 29 41 Welfare and transfer payments 2 24 22 Productivity 90 80 92 75 65 6 Quality of life 20 12 23 3 Equity 20 Employment, earnings and job quality 40 5 Business incubation 25 20 53 9 Human capital 3 20 7 Infrastructure 20 2 3 Technology, knowledge jobs, and digital economy 62 20 23 19 Other 10 20 4 25 14 Resource efficiency / environment 20 4 7 External sector 10 25 7 http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 12 Because indexes in a cluster emphasize similar components , states often rank consistently well or poorly on indexes within a cluster. For example, referring back to Table 1, we see that all of the indexes in the taxes - and -costs cluster rank California between 43th and 47th. We find more variation in how Californ ia is ranked among the indexes in the productivity cluster, which likely reflects the greater variety of variables included in these indexes . But still, California ranks relatively high in four of the five indexes in the cluster, and the worst ranking is o nly 31st (for DRCS -P), well above all of its rankings in the tax es-and -costs cluster . A lthough states often rank consistently well or poorly on indexes within a cluster, there is generally no clear pattern of states ranking consistent ly well or poorly acr oss clusters . As shown in Figure 1, California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts rank highly on indexes in the productivity cluster and poorly on indexes in the taxes -and -costs cluster. 15 In contrast, Colorado, Utah, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Dela ware, rank favorably i n both clusters, whereas Hawaii, New Mexico, and West Virginia rank unfavorably in both. FIGURE 1 California’s business climate ranks favorably on measures of productivity but poorly in terms of taxes and costs The Puzzle of California’s Economic Growth California’s wide-ranging rankings on these business climate index es yield different and hard- to-reconcile views of the California economy. So h ow has economic growth in California compared with the nation overall? Over the past 30 years, employment growth in California has averaged 1.1 percent annually, similar 15 To create this figure, we first standardized the indexes. We then computed the average across years for each index and averaged t hose scores by cluster . AK AL AR AZ California CO CT DE FL GA HI IA ID IL IN KS KY LA MA MD ME MI MN MO MS MT NC ND NE NH NJ NM NV NY OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VA VT WA WI WV WY -2 -1 0 1 2 -2 -1 0 1 2 Productivity cluster Taxes -and -costs cluster http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 13 to the U.S . average of 1.2 percent , and California’s growth tracks U.S. growth closely year to year. When California’s growth lags U .S . growth, it is due to slowdowns in sectors disproportionately concentrated in California, as happened in the early 1990s ( contraction in the aerospace and defense industries), the early 2000s ( bursting of the high- tech bubble), and since 2006 ( downturn in construction and mortgage finance). Yet in most years, California’s economic growth exceeds that of the nation overall (Kolko and R eed, 2008). California’s total output growth, as measured by G ross State Product (GSP), has remained above U .S . levels for the past decade: From 1997 to 2008 (the latest year for which data are available ), real output grew 3.6 percent annually in Californi a compared to 2.7 percent in the United States. Some of the recent concern with California’s economic growth —despite its close tracking of the nation’s economic growth —may arise because of comparison s with the past: California used to outpace the nation by more than it has recently . From 1950 to 1980, California’ s employment growth averaged 3.6 percent annually —well above the U .S . average of 2.2 percent for the same period, and even further above both California an d U.S . average growth since 1980. Thus a pu zzle emerges: Although California’s recent economic growth is near the national average, the state ranks poorly on many business climate indexes, particularly those in the taxes -and -costs cluster. It may be tempting, therefore, simply to disregard these indexes as poor predictors of economic performance, at least for California , and therefore discourage researchers, the policy community, and the media from taking them seriously. However, a simple comparison of California’s near-national -average economic performance and its poor rankings on business climate indexes focusing on taxes and costs may fail to tell the whole story. As we discussed above, different indexes rank California differently, so some of the business climate rankings may be more predictive of economic performance than others. Each of the indexes also include s numerous policy measures, some of which may contribute to economic growth while others in the same index may not. Furthermore, simpl istic comparison s among the various busine ss climate indexes overlook the possibility that California’s economic performance may depend on factors beyond the reach of policy, such as weather and geography, which are not captured i n the indexes , and that California’s poor business climate , if such is the case, is offset by these other favorable factors. Thus, once other, non-policy factors that might contribute to growth are taken into account, some business climate indexes , or their sub -indexes , may shed further light on which policies do contribute to economic growth and what, if anything, California can do to increase its economic growth. Economic Growth: The Influence of Non -Policy Factors Factors beyond the immediate control of state and local policymakers must surely affect economic growth as well. 16 A s we noted a bove, California’s recent economic downswings—in the early 1990s, the early 2000s, and the current recession —occurred during slumps in specific industries that were disproportionately concentrated in California. Elsewhere, too , local economic fortunes depend on locally dominant industries — for example, automobiles in Michigan, finance in New York, and oil and gas in the Gulf Coast region. In the short -term, policymakers probably can do little to change the industry composition of their region, even if investments in education or infrastructure might , over the long-term, help shift a local economy from one set of industries to another. Natural features, such as climate and proximity to waterways, also influence the location of ec onomic activity and affect the composition and growth of local economi es. Historically, 16 Appendix B describes academic research on how well business climate indexes and the policy components that constitute them predict economic growth. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 14 proximity to waterways has facilitated the trade of manufactured goods, al though as the U.S. economy has become a largely service- based economy, the advantage of coastal loc ations has diminished. The shift to a service- based economy has also meant that fewer jobs are in industries tied to natural resources, such as coal or forests, and that their locations can be based on other factors. Population density can also affect growth, and in principle the effect could be in either direction —enhancing growth through the beneficial effects of proximity to other businesses, workers, and knowledge (what urban economists call “agglomeration economies”) , or slowing growth due to cong estion, higher land costs, and lack of room for expansion. Finally, al l else equal, workers are willing to accept lower wages to live and work in more appealing places, so businesses not tied to specific locations for other reasons can lower their labor co sts by locating in places that have amenities such as a milder climate. 17 Of course, the factors affecting economic growth might vary at the local or regional level . Metropolitan areas can have different patterns of industrial composition, workforce characteristics, and local policies —and hence, different patterns of economic growth . Earlier PPIC research has shown that regions within California do not always grow in concert and indeed have different “business climate s” (Dardia and Luk, 1999). 18 Despite the economic variation within states —especially large states such as California—we focus on business climate indexes and policy components at the state level. Although state boundaries do not necessarily reflect distinct labor or product markets , or have any other inherent economic meaning, state governments do formulate and establish important economic policies ; and the tendency of business climate indexes to rank states rather than metropolitan areas or other regions reflect s the expected importance of taxes, regulations, investments, and other policy actions undertaken at the state level. 17 The relationships between amenities, wages, and growth have been explored in academic work by Roback (1982), Glaeser et al. ( 2001), and many others. 18 Much analysis of local and regional economic growth looks at metropolitan areas, which are defined by th e U.S. Office of Management and Budget and are intended to represent areas with a “high degree of social and economic integration,” as evidenced by commuting and other patterns. See http://www.census.gov/population/www/metroareas/metroarea.html (viewed May 7, 2010). http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 15 How should economic growth be measured? In analyzing the relationship between economic growth and the business climate indexes and non- policy factors discussed above, we considered several measures of growth —specifically, growth in employment, wages, and Gross State Product (GSP). 1 These measures provide a broad view of the economic health of a state and are the principal outcomes considered by researchers and policymakers in their economic policy debates. Employment growth receives particular attention. In the recent recession and its aftermath, the media and policymakers have closely tracked changes in employment (or related meas ures such as unemployment and underemployment) in assessing the severity of the recession, the extent of the economic recovery, and the success (or lack of success) in federal recovery efforts. 2 Of course, the private sector also expresses a strong interest in employment growth. The California Chamber of Commerce, for example, issues an annual list of “job killer” bills pending before the state legislature. 3 Policymakers also care about the wages that jobs pay —wages reflect residents’ standard of living a nd generate tax revenue 4—so we include total wages in our analysis of economic growth. 5 And we also look at GSP, the state analog of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which measures the overall output of a state’s economy. GSP includes the sum of wages (labor income), capital income (returns to business owners, corporations, and other owners of capital), and business taxes. 1 We also studied growth in employment at new business establishments, for which some of the results differ in important way s from those for employment, wage, and GSP growth. However, this outcome measure is less closely tied to overall economic growth. Discussion of this outcome measure and results is reported in Technical Appendices C and D . 2 For a few examples, see http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=8967119 (viewed November 11, 2009), http://www.busines sweek.com/investing/content/sep2009/pi20090924_606185.htm (viewed November 11, 2009), and http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/10/29/national/main5446350.shtml (viewed Nove mber 11, 2009). 3 The 2009 list included bills regarding such things as energy regulations for new housing, workers’ compensation, sick days, and health care taxes. See http://www.calchamber.com/governmentrelations/pages/jobkillers2009.aspx (viewed November 11, 2009). 4 Of course, there are different ways that total wages can grow, and a state’s policies might be judged as more successful if they create high -wage jobs ra ther than low -wage jobs. Reflecting this policy goal, for example, New Mexico offers a tax credit for high -wage jobs; see http://www.edd.state.nm.us/businessAssistance/incentives /ind ex.html (viewed November 11, 2009). If evidence pointed to growth in employment but not in total wages, this could reflect substitution of low -wage for high -wage jobs —not a positive outcome. Typically, though, our evidence points to the same types of polic ies increasing employment growth and wage growth (when they have an effect), suggesting that employment gains are coming from wages that are roughly the same, on average, as the existing stock of jobs. 5 See, for example, http://www.riedc.com/about/mission- and-strategy/strategy-1 (viewed November 11, 2009), htt p://www.google.com/webhp?tab=mw#hl=en&source=hp&q=high+wage+jobs&aq=f&aqi=g1&oq=&fp=8bd4816e1 661ba1a (viewed November 11, 2009), and http://www.treoaz.org/About-TREO-Economic- Blueprint -Jobs.aspx (viewed November 11, 2009). http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 16 Findings: Business Climate Indexes, Policy Factors, and Economic Growth In this section we show which of the various business climate indexes, their sub-indexes , and other factors predict economic growth, and implication s for the debate about California’s business climate . 19 We first estimate the strength of the statistical relationships between the business climate indexes and the economic outcomes—g rowth in employment, wages, and GSP —controlling for other factors that might be associated with the indexes or the outcomes, including climate, population density, industrial mix, and proximity to a coast . This shows how well business climate indexes predict state economic performance and suggests why some states grow faster than others . Next, we turn to the “California puzzle” we posed earlier —i.e., why the state has been able to a chieve about -average economic performance in spite of its poor rankings on some of the business climate indexes. Finally, we explore some of the sub-indexes to determine which polic y areas are likely to be most helpful in promoting the state ’s economic growth. Employment, Wages, and Gross State Product The business climate indexes that focus on productivity -related variables have littl e or no predictive power for employment growth at the state level . In sharp contrast, s tates ranked favorably on the business climate indexes in the tax es-and -costs cluster —that is, states with lower taxes and costs of doing business —have strong er job grow th. These results, and the results for wage and GSP growth, are summarized in Table 3. TABLE 3 Taxes -and- costs indexes predict economic growth but productivity indexes do not NETS employment growth QCEW employment growth QCEW wage growth GSP growth Productivity cluster No effect or possibly negative No effect or possibly negative No effect or possibly negative No effect or negative effect Taxes and costs cluster Clear positive Clear positive Positive No effect or positive effect NOTE: The growth measures we use are explained in detail in Appendix C. The NETS and QCEW provide alternative measures of employment growth. The evidence for wage growth is largely consistent with that for employment. The business climate indexes that emphasize productiv ity-related variables do not predict wage growth. In contrast, the indexes in the taxes -and -costs cluster do predict wage growth, although the evidence in this case is a bit weaker than for employment growth. And finally, when we look at GSP growth, the evidence is similar although not as strong. Once again, the business climate indexes that emphasize productivity -related variables do not predict GSP growth, but there is some 19 Our intention here is to provide a brief overview of our analysis and findings for a nonacademic audience. Appendix C contains a detailed discussion of our data and methods, and Appendix D provides a lengthier discussion of the results. In addition, although not reported in main text, we also examined the relationships between the business climate indexes and employment change attributable to births of new busine ss establishments. These results are described in Appendix D . http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 17 evidence —although it is weaker than the evidence for wage and employment g rowth—that policies that lead to a higher ranking in the tax- and cost -related business climate indexes may lead to faster growth of GSP. 20 In sum, the indexes in the productivity cluster are not associated with growth in jobs, wages, or GSP, but all five i ndexes in the taxes -and -costs cluster are associated with faster economic growth in each of these areas , with some of the indexes predicting economic growth more strongly than others. T he taxes -and -costs indexes are even more strongly predictive of employ ment and wage growth in the manufacturing sector than they are of growth in the overall economy. 21 We look specifically at manufacturing for two reasons. First, manufacturing, which traditionally provides reasonably high -paying jobs for middle- class workers, is often singled out in the political debate for having a declining share of employment and thus deserving of specific tax credits and economic development efforts. S econd, manufacturing is more “footloose” than other sectors. Unlike retail and personal services (which serve local customer bases ) and natural resource industries such as mining (which are tied to limited locations ), many manufacturing industries produce for national or international markets and have more flexibility in choosing where to locate. Our analysis indicated that t he taxes -and -costs indexes do not , however, have a stronger predictive effect on economic growth in footloose industries other than manufacturing—e.g., information, finance, and professional services —than on economic growth in the economy overall. 22,23 To summarize, the main conclusions that emerge from the analysis of the business climate indexes are that indexes focusing on taxes and costs of doing business have some predictive power for economic growth, especially f or manufacturing, while productivity -focused indexes do not. Interpretation and Limitations of Our F indings Our research leading to these conclusions is limited in four ways , each of which dictates caution in drawing strong policy conclusions from the results. First, because of the relatively short sample period available to us (1992 –2008), we are unable to estimate relationships between business climate indexes and economic outcomes over a long period in the past, and then examine how business climate indexes forecast economic outcomes for a more recent period. 24 S econd, because state rankings on any one index change little over our time period, we cannot study the effect s of sharp changes in state policies on economic growth for a given state. 25 The best we can do is to add a detailed set of control variables —described above—that capture other differences between states that could be correlated with rankings on business climate indexes and also could predict economic growth. 20 Moreover, for the GSP results, the actual estimated effects (without regard to statistical significance) are almost uniformly negative for the business climate indexes in the productivity clus ter, and are uniformly positive for those in the taxes- and-costs cluster. 21 See Appendix D and Table D7. 22 Kolko and Neumark (2007) identify some sectors as more “footloose” than others based on gross job creation and destruction du e to relocation into and out of California. 23 We also explored whether the relationship between business climate indexes and econo mic performance is similar in years when the national economy grew faster and in years when the national economy grew more slowly, and did not find any evidence that a poor busine ss climate harms states more in recessions than in regular times. Rather, a p oor business climate appears to slow growth throughout the business cycle. 24 In technical terms, we would like to assess the ability of the business climate indexes to predict economic outcomes “out of sample.” 25 The inter -temporal correlations of business climate indexes within states are quite high and statistically significant, typically in the 0.7 –0.9 range for gaps of two or more years and well over 0.9 for consecutive years for most indexes. FPRCNG is the exception: the co rrelation over time for that index is usually in the 0 –0.3 range for pairs of years. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 18 The third limitation is that economic growth might affect policy at the same time that policy affects economic growth. For example, faster economic growth may lead to lowering of tax rates, or to smaller welfare and transfer payments. Given that lower tax rates and smaller welfare and transfer payments will be reflected in a “better” business climate ranking, this feedback (or “reverse causality”) creates a bias towards finding a positive effect of the business climate on economic growth. When we study the sub -indexes, which reflect narrower sets of policy options than the broader indexes , we try to assess how likely it is that our estimates reflect actual policy effects. But we do not claim a definitive causal interpretation of ou r findings. Fourth, some policies that may matter for economic growth are hard to quantify and compare across states. Uncertainty about future changes to laws and regulations, for instance, might slow business investment, but measuring the level of this uncertainty would be challenging. Business climate indexes therefore omit factors that might in fact be important for economic growth. Nonetheless, our evidence that the tax -and -cost related business climate indexes predict economic growth , combined with C alifornia’s poor rankings on these indexes, implies that, at a minimum, policymakers need to take seriously concerns that high taxes and costs of doing business slow California’s economic growth. Explaining the California Puzzle: Why D oes California Do Better Than Its Policies Predict? Having found that the business climate indexes that emphasi ze taxes and costs help predict state economic growth, the California puzzle we raised earlier comes back into question: California ranks near the bottom o f the bu siness climate indexes in the taxes-and -costs cluster , yet its economic performance is about average. Why, then, does California’s economic growth substantially outperform its rankings on business climate indexes that predict growth ? Taking the evidence on business climate indexes at face value , California’s economic growth is held back because of policies that lead to a poor ranking on these indexes. But California is also fortunate to have natural advantages with regard to other factors that boost economic performance. The two forces are offsetting, so despite its relatively poor business climate, California’s economic growth comes in near or above the national average. We document this in two steps. First, we show the relative importance of the business climate and the other factors. And second, we illustrate what this implies for California. Figure 2 reports information that provides comparisons of the estimated effects of the business climate indexes in the taxes -and -costs cluster and these natural advantages and other factors on employment, wage, and GSP growth. 26 In parti cular, we report estimates for similar changes in a state’s position in the rankings (from 40th to 10th ) in the business climate indexes, and the other factors including industry composition, population density, and climate mildness; these latter three were found to have consistent and significant relationships with employment, wage, and GSP growth. 26 The b ars in Figure 2 represent the average standardized coefficients from Appendix Tables D1– D4, 1-year changes, with controls. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 19 FIGURE 2 Taxes -and- cost business climate indexes predict growth, but other non- policy factors are more important NOTE: Figures show the effects of moving from a rank of 40th to a rank of 10th on each measure. For all four economic growth outcomes in the figure, the effect of a better business climate index is positive . But the figure shows that the effects of both industry composition and a mild climate are larger—and often much larger. Thus, although a more favorable business climate ranking on tax -and -cost indexes increases job growth, other factors fully or largely beyond the control of policymakers are more important. 27 27 An additional factor we considered was the presence of research un iversities, which may have a long-term effect on the development of industries and on economic growth. Like population density and industry composition, the presence of research universities changes only slowly over time: the creation and development of a new university often takes decades. Our measure is doctorate degrees granted per capita, which reflects both the number and size of research universities: Massachusetts and Rhode Island are the highest -ranking states on this measure. Including doctorate de grees granted per capita as a control had little effect on the relationship between the business climate indexes and economic growth, and its own relationship with economic growth was typically negative and sometimes significant. We interpret this result a s evidence of robustness of our business climate index findings, not as evidence that higher education does not matter: our ind ustry composition control variable likely already captures some of the effect of universities, and other elements of the higher e ducation system—like community colleges —might also matter for growth. -0.6 -0.4 -0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 Businessclimate indexIndustrycompositioneffect PopulationdensityMildness Growth rate NETS employment growth -0.6 -0.4 -0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 Businessclimate indexIndustrycompositioneffect PopulationdensityMildness Growth rate QCEW employment growth -0.6 -0.4 -0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 Businessclimate indexIndustrycompositioneffect PopulationdensityMildness Growth rate QCEW wage growth -0.6 -0.4 -0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 Businessclimate indexIndustrycompositioneffect PopulationdensityMildness Growth rate GSP growth http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 20 Moreover, these non- policy factors that are important for economic growth are particularly favorable in California. In Figure 3 the contribution of the business climate index and the combined effect of these non- policy factors to California’s relative economic growth is shown. E ach economic growth measure (employment, wages, GSP) is represented by a pair of bars . The first bar in each pair reflects the extent to which the policies captured by California’s business climate index es contribute to growth . 28 In each case , California’s unfavorable ranking results in a negative contribution to economic growth. The second bar in each pair reflects the overall contribution of the five non -policy factors to economic growth: mild weather, dry weather, industry composition, population density, and proximity to a coast. Together, these factors —mild weather especially —boost California’s economic growth rate , and their positive contribution to California’s economic growth rate is about three times as large as the negative contribution of the policies included in the three tax -and -cost business climate indexes that rank California ’s business climate 43 rd, 45th, and 47th among all states . California ’s natural advantages thus favor economic growth in the state , and more than offset its unfavorable business climate ranking . 29 Even further, our findings imply that if we could imp rove the state’s poor business climate, California’s economic growth would outp ace most other states. 30 It should be noted as well that California is unique among large states for scoring poorly on these business climate indexes but having such favorable natural advantages. 31 FIGURE 3 California’s natural advantages more than offset unfavorable business climate cond itions in the state 28 The figure represents the relationship between the business climate index and control variables and each economic growth outc ome (from Appendix Tables D1 –D4), multiplied by California’s business climate index score and values for control variables. The business climate estimates are based on the average from models with SBTC, EFI, and EFINA indexes, which were the ones that exhibit a consistent positiv e relationship with growth. See Appendix D for more d etails and for related analysis for all states. 29 California of course has both a dry and mild climate. It also ranks highly (9th) in terms of the industrial composition factor that captures how strongly each state’s industries grew nationally. One disadva ntage for California is its high ranking (2nd) on population density—a measure that is largely based on the population per square mile in the areas of a state that are more populated —which as it turns out is associated with slower growth. (See Appendix Tab le C1 for additional descriptive information on these and other variables.) 30 Taking away the estimated negative contribution of the business climate, California’s rank would rise from 28 th to 18th for employment (QCEW), 25th to 14 th for aggregate wages, and 15th to 11 th for GSP. Only for employment measured by the NETS does California’s rank remain below the median, rising from 33 rd to 27 th. 31 See Appendix D and Figure D2 in particular for comparisons of California with other individ ual states. -0.6 -0.4 -0.20.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 Employment(NETS) Employment (QCEW) Wages GSP Percentage points of annual economic growth Economic growth Tax and cost policies Natural advantages Contribution to economic growth: http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 21 Relationship between Business Climate Sub- Indexes and Economic Growth To this point we have focused on the business climate indexes because they are clearly prominent in the public debate. But these indexes are summaries, often combining a broad range of policies and other factors constituting the tools available to policymakers for improv ing the business climate and hence economic performance. Although, in our view, the different indexes clearly capture different dimensi ons of policy and are therefore informative about which broad classes of policies (taxes and costs versus productivity) are more strongly associated with economic growth, the relationships between more specific types of policies and economic growth have th e potential to offer more useful policy guidance. It is not feasible to estimate the effect s of individual policies on economic growth , given the scores of individual policies that could be relevant. 32 Fortunately, most of the business climate indexes repo rt sub- indexes that focus on specific types of polic ies. We can therefore dig deeper into why some business climate indexes are more predictive of economic growth and say something more specific about the types of policies that appear to be most important for economic growth. T hree of the taxes-and-costs indexes (SBTC, EFINA, and EFI ) and four of the productivity indexes include sub-indexes. 33 Each of SBTC’s five sub -indexes focus on a particular type of taxation, such as the corporate income tax or the sales tax, while EFINA’s three sub - indexes and EFI’s five sub -indexes cover not only taxes but also the level and composition of government spending, regulatory and judicial factors, and other costs of doing business. The EFINA “size of government” sub -ind ex, despite its name, consists mostly of measures reflecting the extent of spending on welfare, “social security,” 34 and transfer payments; the components of this sub -index focus more on the composition of government expenditure than the size of government per se. EFINA’s “size of government” sub -index is similar to EFI’s “welfare -spending” sub -index: Both consist primarily of components that fall into our “welfare and transfer payments” sub -category. The productivity indexes include sub -indexes covering qua lity-of -life measures, equity and technology factors, and other potential contributors to growth. Among the productivity indexes, many sub -indexes consist partly or largely of components that we consider closer to economic outcomes than components that exp lain economic outcomes: For instance, the DRCS-P index includes an “employment” sub -index, which includes measures of employment growth. 35 Thus e ach sub -index captures a more narrowly -defined set of policies than the overall indexes. Table 4 shows Californi a’s rank among states on each sub-index . 32 See Appendix Table A2 for the list of policies that make up the indexes, keeping in mind that many of the entries in that tab le cover multiple policies as well. With only 50 states, and with policies that typically change slowly if at all, it is not possible to isolate statistically the effect of every policy. Consistent with these concerns, existing research demonstrates that the effects of individual policy components are sensitive to the other components included in or excluded from a model (see Appendix B ). 33 SCI publishes sub -index rankings, but the sub -indexes change over time and index scores (as opposed to state rankings) are only available in some years. For these reasons, we could not include the SCI sub -indexes in our analysis. Significantly, the three taxes-and-costs indexes that provide sub -indexes include the two with the strongest relationship with economic growth (SBTC and EFINA). 34 This is not the usual meaning of “social security,” but instead refers more generally to unemploym ent insurance, disability insurance, workers compensation , and public pensions , all defined at the state level. We believe the specific data item to which this refers is the state government “Insurance Trust Expenditure” category in the Census Bureau’s gov ernment finance statistics (http://www.census.gov/govs/www/06classificationmanual/chapter05.html#p2c534 , viewed July 19, 2010). 35 More details on the sub -indexes are given in Appendix A , and Appendix D dicusses how we address the problem of the inclusion of economic outcomes in the productivity -related sub-indexes. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 22 TABLE 4 Sub- indexes focus more narrowly on the specific types of policies that affect economic performance Taxes- and-costs sub-indexes California’s rank Productivity sub-indexes California’s rank SBTC corporate tax 43 SNEI knowledge jobs 12 SBTC individual income tax 44 SNEI globalization 14 SBTC sales tax 39 SNEI economic dynamism 3 SBTC property tax 10 SNEI digital economy 5 SBTC unemployment insurance tax 19 SNEI innovation capacity 2 EFINA size of government 42 DRCS-P employment 37 EFINA labor market freedom 38 DRCS-P earnings and job quality 37 EFINA takings and discriminatory taxation 44 DRCS-P equity 34 EFI fiscal 42 DRCS-P quality of life 39 EFI regulatory 49 DRCS-P resource efficiency 2 EFI welfare spending 43 DRCS-BV competitiveness of existing business 20 EFI government size 25 DRCS-BV entrepreneurial energy 4 EFI judicial 15 DRCS-DC human resources 36 DRCS-DC innovation assets 2 DRCS-DC financial resources 4 DRCS-DC amenities resources & natural capital 49 DRCS-DC infrastructure resources 21 NOTES: See notes to Table A5 in Appendix A for more details and sources. California's value is the average state rank across years. California’s low rank ing on the SBTC corporate, individual income, and sales tax sub -indexes reflect, in part, the higher rates of these taxes in California, as well as how these taxes are structured. Across the taxes- and- costs sub -indexes, California rank s among the top 20 states only on the SBTC property tax and unemployment insurance sub -indexes and the EFI judicial index. 36 More generally, it is ranked in the bottom 10 on many of the sub -indexes, including the S BTC corporate and individual income tax sub -indexes, the EF INA size of government and “ takings and discriminatory taxation ” sub -indexes, and the EFI fiscal, regulatory, and welfare spending sub -indexes. 37 California’s rating varies on the productivity sub -indexes , with the state ranking among the top five states on multiple sub -indexes yet well below average on some, including DRCS -P’s “quality of life” index and DRCS - DC’s “human resources” index, which capture a broad range of social, education, and health measures. Of the thirty sub -indexes we examined ( shown in Table 4 ), three stand out in having a consistent , statistically significant relationship with our economic growth measures (employment, wages, and GSP ). These three sub -indexes —the SBTC corporate tax index, the EFINA size- of-government index, and the EFI welfare- 36 California’s property tax revenue relative to income is well below the national average. Califo rnia’s ranking on EFI’s judicial index is favorable, but other rankings of the cost to business of litigation, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute of Legal Reform index, scores California quite unfavorably. The EFI’s judicial index does not include the Chamber’s litigation ranking. 37 California’s low ranking on the welfare spending sub -indexes is consistent with its ranking on many welfare -related measures. For example, it is among the more generous states with regard to monthly benefits per participant in the Women, Infants, and Children Special Nutrition Program (www.fns.usda.gov/pd/25wifyavgfd$.htm , viewed August 10, 2010), Food Stamp benefits ( www.fns.usda.gov/pd/18SNAPavg$PP.htm, viewed March 25, 2010), and average monthly TANF benefit for families and maximum TANF benefit for families ( http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi- bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_green_book&docid=f:wm006_07.pdf , viewed August 10, 2010). http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 23 spending index —all fall within the taxes-and -costs index cluster. ( California ranks 43rd, 42nd, and 43rd, respectively, on these sub -indexe s.) None of the sub -indexes within the productivity cluster has a consistent, significant relationship with economic growth, just as none of the overall productivity indexes does. 38 Taxes The SBTC’s corporate tax sub -index has a positive and statistically significant relationship with growth of both wages and GSP . None of the other tax sub -indexes reported by SBTC demonstrates a consistent relationship with economic growth. The SBTC corporate tax sub -index includes multiple variables that fall into two groups. The first group consists of measures of the corporate tax rate structure, which includes the top marginal tax rate but also the number of tax brackets and their threshold levels: A lower top rate and a flatter rate structure contribute to a better sub -index score. The second group consists of measures of the corporate tax base: M ore generous net-opera ting-loss deductions and fewer corporate tax credits are two of the measures that contribute to a better sub -index score. 39 California ranks poorly because it has a relatively high (though flat) tax rate, fail s to conform to federal corporate tax depreciation schedules, and ha s a corporate Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). 40 Even though the top marginal rate is one component of the SBTC corporate tax sub -index, we found that the relationship between this sub -index and economic growth is driven by aspects of the corporate tax other than the top marginal rate itself , including its simplicity, the breadth of the tax base, and whether different firms face similar effective rates after taking both marginal rates and dedu ctions into account. However, n either the SBTC corporate tax sub -index nor any of the other sub -index es makes it possible to determine which of these other aspects of the corporate tax is most relevant for economic growth. As a consequence, the findings do not lead to specific recommendations on improving tax policy but suggest that complexity of the corporate tax code as a factor inhibiting economic growth merits further attention. W elfare and Transfer Payments As noted above, two other sub-indexes, EFINA’ s “size of government” and EFI’s “welfare -spending ,” exhibit large, positive, and statistically significant relationship s with multiple economic growth outcomes. Despite the different names of these two sub -indexes, our investigation into their underlying components reveals that they are both primarily measures of the composition of government expenditures and, more specifically, reflect the extent of government spending on welfare and transfer payments (as opposed to education, transportation, debt service, and other types of government spending). 41 Because EFINA and EFI both include sub -indexes covering many types of taxes and other costs businesses face —including regulation, taxes, and policies affecting labor costs—our finding that the composition of government expenditures matters for economic growth is based on an analysis that controls for a wide range of other taxes and costs. In particular, the overall level of taxes or government spending (reflected in the tax -focused EFINA “takings and discr iminatory taxation” sub-index and the EFI “fiscal” sub -index) does 38 See Appendix D for further details on these results. In our regressions, we include all sub -indexes of a given index in the same model. 39 Net -operating -loss deductions, in effect, tax firms on their average profitability over time, which the SBTC index considers desirable; tax credits complicate the tax system and narrow the tax base, which the SBTC index treats as undesirable. 40 The 2009 SBTC Background Paper calls out California for these three features of its corporate tax in explaining how individual variables enter into its corporate tax sub -index. Available at http://www.taxfoundation.org/fi les/bp58.pdf (viewed October 21, 2010). 41 See Appendix Table A5 . http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 24 not appear to have a consistent relationship with economic growth, even though the composition of that spending does. Although this evidence does not necessarily imply that lower welfare and transfer payments cause higher growth, economic theory suggests reasons for such an effect . Any program whose benefits or eligibility depends on low -income or non -employment status pr ovides some disincentive to work or incentive to work less if employed: If benefits are reduced or eliminated when someone becomes employed or receives more income, recipients in effect face a tax on their labor equal to the reduction in benefits. Even with federal welfare policy changes that have reduced these work disincentives, 42 welfare- type programs and transfer payments —by their nature —still tend to create work disincentives. 43 Nonetheless, the finding that the business climate sub -indexes capturing welfare and transfer payments predict that more spending on welfare and transfers slows economic growth suggests the need for continued attention to how California’s income -support and related programs can continue to provide an adequate safety net while stil l creating strong incentives to work. Other Policy Areas Aside from the three sub -indexes discussed above, none of the sub -indexes in the tax -and -cost indexes demonstrate s a consistent, significant relationship with our measures of economic growth ; nor do any of the sub -indexes in the productivity cluster . Why do only three out of nearly thirty sub -indexes demonstrate a positive relationship with economic growth? One reason may be that business climate indexes and sub -indexes require quantifying factors th at potentially affect economic growth, and some types of policies are particularly challenging to quantify. Regulations and legal costs of doing business, captured in EFI’s “regulatory” and “judicial” sub -indexes, are examples of factors that are difficult to measure. The cost s of laws and regulations to businesses depend not only on the letter of the law but also on how states or localities with identical regulations on paper implement or enforce them ; the subtleties of these implementation or enforcement processes are even more difficult to quantify than the letter of the law. Uncertainty over future regulatory or legal actions could affect economic activity , and how states differ in this uncertainty would also be challenging to quantify. Furthermore, while some policies, such as the individual income tax or the minimum wage, exist in some form in most states and therefore are easy to include in business climate indexes, other measures may be unique to one or a few states, such as California’s AB 32 greenhouse gas emissions reduction law. These unique policies, taxes, or regulations tend not to be included in indexes because it is challenging to separate the effect of a factor unique to one state from the possibility that the state is unique in some other, unmeasurable way. These are only some of the reasons why business climate indexes omit policies that might in fact be important for economic growth. Another reason why some of the sub -indexes may not demonstrate a strong relationship with growth is that a number of them include policies designed to achieve social or economic goals other than growth. F or instance, the DRCS -P “quality of life” sub -index includes health status, voting participation, and charitable 42 For a review of past programs and the subsequent reforms, see Blank (2002). 43 These programs are means -tested, and hence eligibility for them or the amount of support paid is phased out as income rises beyond some level. And, except for the EITC, these programs make some support available to those who are not working, inevitably creating incentives for some people not to work. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 25 contributions, none of which may necessarily lead to or reflect economic growth but which may nonetheless be desirable outcomes. Other sub -indexes might include policies that contribute to growth in sectors of the economy that are too small to result in a statistically significant relationship between the sub -index (or index) and economy -wide economic growth: S everal SNEI sub-indexes and the DRCS -DC “innovation assets” index include measures related to science, engineering, and technology. A further reason may be that our study covers a relatively sho rt time p eriod—less than two decades. While some policies, such as tax changes or hiring credits, may have (or are claimed to have) immediate effects on economic behavior, some of the policies included in the sub -indexes might a ffect economic growth only over the long -term rather than within the time period available to analy sis. Spending on infrastructure, technology, and education are plausible examples of polic y areas in which the economic effects take decades to be realized. In sum , looking at the sub -indexes enables us to go beyond the broad finding that lower taxes and costs are generally associated with faster economic growth, and allows us to draw more specific conclusions about which types of policies are associated with economic growth, even thoug h our analysis is still limited to sets of policies rather than individual policies . http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 26 Conclusions Our findings enable us to arrive at a number of broad conclusions about economic growth, the value of business climate indexes, and the California business climate debate . The factors that demonstrate the strongest relationship with economic growth are, to a large extent, beyond the reach of policy. These factors include weather and geography, which reflect natural advantages or disadvantages that states and localities are heir to , as well as industry composition and density, which may be the outcome of cumulative long -term policy decisions and cannot be significantly altered within a short time period by policy decisions. Several business climate indexes emphasizing taxes and costs also demonstrate a significant relationship with economic growth, al though these relationships are not as strong as the relationship between the non -policy factors (noted above) and growth. None of the business climate indexes emphasizing productivity show s a positive and significant association with employment, wage, or GSP growth. We find that t hree of the sub -indexes in the taxes -and -costs cluster have a positive and significant relationship with economic growth . Two are primarily measures of the composition of government spending and imply that lower welfare and transfer payments are associated with highe r economic growth. The third is a composite measure of numerous features of the corporate income tax, and our analysis shows that the structure of the corporate tax , not the top marginal rate, is responsible for this sub -index’s positive relati onship with economic growth. Because the policies captured in these indexes and sub -indexes may respond to (as well as promote) economic growth, it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions about policy changes that would lead to faster economic growth. Nonetheless, the relationships we find are plausible in terms of economic s: Welfare and transfer payments are a disincentive to work and could therefore hold back growth, and factors that contribute to a worse ranking on the SBTC’s corporate tax sub -index —for example, corporate tax credits and greater complexity of the tax structure —increase costs of compliance and create economic distortions that could impede growth. But without evidence of a causal relationship and greater clarity about exactly which pol icies within a sub -index are most strongly associated with economic growth, these findings are suggestive rather than definit ive prescriptions of policies that are likely to increase economic performance. Although o ur findings suggest that the business climate indexes have value in pointing out policy areas that have a rel ationship with economic growth, the indexes have limitations. First, they are broad in their sweep , combining many factors that have no observed relationship with growth with , at most , a few factors that do . E ven sub- indexes can be too broad for definitive policy conclusions. The one sub -index associated with economic growth that we investigated more closely, the SBTC corporate tax sub -index, include s a variable— the top marginal corporate tax rate —that often lies at the center of policy debates but that, in fact, exhibits no relationship with economic growth. And many factors that plausibly affect growth are hard to quantify and incorporate into a bus iness climate index. Thus as useful as some of these indexes and sub -indexes may seem to be for suggesting approaches to increasing economic growth, deeper analysis of the effects of individual policies , as well as attempts to refine the measurement of the most significant sets of policies, are needed. Our findings do appear to help resolve the puzzle of California’s business climate and its economic performance. Our cross-state analys is finds that factors beyond policy, such as a mild climate , demonstrate a stronger relationship with economic growth than any of the business climate indexes do . California ’s http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 27 economy grows at roughly the same rate as the national average because the state’s favorable natural advantages and historical conditions more than off set the potentially adverse effects of its business climate , as captured by the taxes -and -costs indexes. At the same time , our estimates imply that a more friendly business climate (as measured by these indexes ) would give a boost to California ’s economic performance. T he clearest policy recommendation s resulting from this study would be for California to examine its welfare and transfer policies , with an eye toward reduc ing work disincentive s, and to simplify corporate tax ation by better align ing the state tax with the federal corporate tax and by reducing credits and other non- uniform treatment of corporate income. These features —not the overall tax rate or the overall size of government —demonstrate the strongest relationship with economic growth in our analysis. The larger point, however, is that over the short - and medium -term, state policy goes only part way in explaining why some states grow faster than others. Political debate over the business climate, in California and elsewhere, likely overemphasizes the role of policy and policymakers in determining their states’ economic performance. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 28 References Albouy, David. 2009. “What A re Cities Worth? Land Rents, Local Productivity, and the C apitalization of Amenity Values.” NBER Working Paper No. 14981. Anderson Economic Group . 2006. “Benchmarking for Success: A Comparison of State Business Taxes. ” Report commissioned by the Michigan House of Representatives . Available at www.andersoneconomicgroup.com/LinkClick.aspx?link=uploadDoc1950.pdf&tabid=125&mid=411. Atkinson , Robert D., and Scott M. Andes. 2008. “The 2008 State New Economy Index: Benchmarking Econom ic Transformation in the States. ” Washington DC: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. 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Orazem . 2005. “Business Climate Indexes: Which Work, Which Don’t, and What Can They Say a bout the Kansas Economy?” Research report prepared for Kansas, Inc. Available at www.kansasin c.org/pubs/working/BusinessClimateIndexes.pdf . Blank, Rebecca M. 2002. “Evaluating Welf are Reform in the United States. ” Journal of Economic Literature 40 : 1105 –66. Brueckner, Jan. 2001. “Strategic Interaction a mong Governments: An Overview of Empiri cal Studies.” International Region al Science Review 26: 175– 88. Buss, Terry F. 2001. “The Effect of State Tax Incentives on Economic Growth and Firm Location Decisions: An Overview of the Literature .” Economic Dev elopment Quarterly 15: 90 –105. Carlton, Dennis W. 1983. “The Location and Employment Choices of New Firms: An Econometric Model with Discrete and Continuous Endogenous Variables .” Review of Economics and Statistics 65: 440 –49. Crain, W. Mark, and Katherine J. Lee . 1999. “Economic Growth Regressi ons for the American States: A Sensitivity Analysis .” Economic Inquiry 37: 242– 57. Dardia, Michael, and Sherman Luk . 1999. “Rethinking the California Business Climate.” San Francisco: Public Policy Institute of California . Davis, Steven, John Haltiwanger, and Scott Schuh . 1996. Job Creation and Destruction . Cambridge , MA: MIT Press . Dubay, Curtis, and Chris Atkins. 2006. “2007 State Business Tax Climate Index,” Background Paper No. 52. Washington DC: Tax Foundation . Elm endorf, Doug, and Jason Furman. 2008. “If, When, How: A Primer on Fiscal Stimulus. ” Hamilton Project Strategy Paper . Washington DC: Brookings Institution . Erickson, Rodney A. 1987. “Business Climate Studies: A Critical Evaluation .” Economic Development Quarterly 1: 62–71. Fisher, Peter . 2005. Grading Places, Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute . Gabriel, Stuart A., and Stuart S. Rosenthal . 2004. “Quality of the Business Environment v ersus Quality of Life: Do Firms and Households Like the Same Cities?” Review of Economics and Statistics 86 : 438 –44. Garrett, Thomas, and Russell Rhine. 2010. “Economic Freedom and Employment Growth in U.S. States .” Federal Reserve Bank of St. Lou is Working Paper 2010 -006A. Glaeser, Edward, et al. 1992. “Growth in Cities .” Journal of Political Economy 100: 1126 –52. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 29 Glaeser, Edward L., and Matthew E. Kahn. 2004. “Sprawl and Urban Growth.” I n Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, vol. 4 , ed. J. V. Henderson and J. F. Thisse (Amsterdam: Elsevier B.V.), 2482 –2527. Glaeser, Edw ard, Jed Kolko, and Albert Saiz. 2001. “Consumer City.” Journal of Economic Geography 1: 27 –50. Greenstone, Michael, Richard Hornbeck, and Enrico Moretti. 2007. “Identifying Agglomeration Spillovers: Evidence from Million Dollar Plants .” MIT Department of Economi cs Working Paper No. 07-31. Hal tiwanger, John, Ron S. Jarmin, and Javier Miranda. 2009. “Who Creates Jobs? Small vs. Large vs. Young .” U npublished paper, University of Maryland. Helms, L. Jay . 1985. “The Effect of State and Local Taxes on Economic Growth: A Time Series –Cross Section Ap proach.” Review of Economics and Statistics 67 : 574 –82. Henderson, Vernon, Ari Kuncoro, and Matt Turner . 1995. “I ndustrial Development in Cities. ” Journal of Poli tical Economy 103: 1067 –90. Holmes, Thomas. 1998. “The Effect of State Policies on the Location of Manufacturing: Evidence from State Borders. ” Journa l of Political Economy 106: 667 –705. Kolko, Jed, and David Neumark . 2007. Business Location Decisions and Employment Dynamics in California. San Francisco: Public Policy Institute of California. Kolko, Jed, and Davin Reed. 2008. “The California Economy: Employment in 2007 .” Just the Facts . San Francisco: Public Policy Institute of California. Laffer, Arthur, and Stephen Moore . 2007. Rich States Poor States: ALEC -Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index . Washington DC: American Le gislative Exchange Council. Mendelsohn, Robert, William D. Nordhaus, and Daigee Shaw . 1994. “The Impact of Global Warming on Agriculture: A Ricardian Analysis .” American Economic Review 84: 753–71. Mulligan, Casey, and Andrei Shleifer . 2005. “The Extent of the Mark et and the Supply of Regulation. ” Quarterly Journal of Economics 120: 1445 –73. Neiman, Max, Gregory Andranovich, and Kenneth Fernandez. 2000. Local Economic Development in Southern California’s Suburbs: 1990 –1997. San Francisco: Public Policy Institute of California . Neumark, David, Junfu Zhang, and Brandon Wall. 2005. “Are Businesses Fleeing the State? Interstate Business Relocation and Employment Change in California.” California Economic Policy 1, Public Policy Institute of California. Neumark, David, Junfu Zhang, and Brandon Wall. 2006. “Where the Jobs Are: Business Dynamics and Employment Growth.” Academy of Management Perspectives 20: 79–94. Neumark, David, Junfu Z hang, and Brandon Wall. 2007. “Employment Dynamics and Business Relocation: New Evidence from the National Establishment Time Series .” Research in Labor Economics 26: 39 –84. Papke, Leslie E. 1991. “Interstate Business Tax Diff erentials and New Firm Locati on.” Journal of Public Economics 45: 47 –68. Papke, Leslie E. 1997. “Subnational Taxation and Capital Mobility: Estimates of Tax -Price Elasticities.” National Tax Journal 40: 191–204. Plaut, Thomas, and Joseph Pluta . 1983. “Business Climate, Taxes and Expenditures, and State Industr ial Growth in the United States. ” Southern Economic Journal 50: 99 –119. Rappaport, Jordan, and Jeffrey Sachs . 2003. “The United States as a Coastal Nation .” Journal of Economic Growth 8: 5 –46. R eed, W. Robert. 2009. “The Determinants of U.S. State Economic Growth: A Less Extreme Bounds Analysis. ” Economic Inquiry 47: 685 –700. Roback, Jennifer . 1982. “Wages, Rents, and Quality of Life .” Journal of Political Economy 90: 1257 –78. Schumpeter, Joseph . 1942. Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy . Repr., New York: Harper , 1975. Shapiro, Jesse . 2006. “Smart Cities: Quality of Life, Productivity, and the Growth Effects of Human Capital .” Review of Ec onomics and Statistics 88: 324 –35. Slivinski, Stephen. 2 006. “Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors: 2006 .” Cato Institute Policy Analysis No. 581. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 30 Skoro, Charles. 1988. “Rankings of State Business Climates: An Evaluation of Their Usefulness in Forecasting .” Economic Development Quarterly 2: 138 –52. Tannenwald, Robert . 1996. “State Business Tax Climate: How Should It Be Measured and How Important Is It?” New England Economic Review (January/February ): 23 –38. Tannenwald, Robert. 1997. “State Regulatory Policy and Economic Development .” New England Economic Review (March/April ): 83–99. Varshney, Sanjay, and Dennis Tootelian . 2009. “Cost of State Regulations on California Small Business Study. ” El Dorado Hills: Varshney and Associates. Wasylenko , Michael. 1997. “Taxation and Economic Development: The S tate of the Economic Literature.” New England Economic Review (March/April ): 37–52. Wasylenko, Michael, and Therese McGuire. 1985. “Jobs and Taxes: The Effect of Business Climate on States’ Employment Growt h Rates. ” National Tax Journal 38 : 497– 511. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 31 About the Author s Jed Kolko is an associate director of research at the Public Policy Institute of California, responsible for managing the institute's economy research. He has conducted numerous studies of the California economy, economic development, ho using, and technology policy. Prior to coming to PPIC in 2006, he was vice president and research director at Forrester Research, a technology consultancy, where he managed the company’s consumer market research businesses and served as the lead researcher on consumer devices and access technologies. Jed has also worked at the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, the World Bank, and the Progressive Policy Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in e conomics from Harvard University. David Neumark is a Bren fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, a professor of economics at the University of California –Irvine, a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor. He has pu blished numerous studies and books on school -to -work programs, workplace segregation, sex discrimination, the economics of gender and the family, affirmative action, aging, minimum wages, and living wages. He is an associate editor of the Review of Economi cs of the Household , and on the editorial boards of Industrial Relations, Contemporary Economic Policy , Journal of Urban Economics , and Journal of Labor Research . He has also held positions as professor of economics at Michigan State University, assistant professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania, and economist at the Federal Reserve Board. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University. Marisol Cuellar Mejia is a research associate at the Public Policy Institute of California’s Sacram ento Center, where her work focuses on economic development. Before joining PPIC, she worked at Colombia’s National Association of Financial Institutions as an economic analyst, concentrating on issues related to the manufacturing sector and small business. She has also conducted agricultural and commodity market research for the Colombian National Federation of Coffee Growers and the National Federation of Palm Oil Growers of Colombia. She holds an M.S. in agricultural and resource economics from the University of California, Davis. Acknowledgments We are grateful to McKinley Blackburn, Michael Dardia, Ellen Hanak, Debbie Reed, Michael Teitz , and Robert Tannenwald for helpful comments on the research, and to Gary Bjork and Lynette Ubois for editorial help . Research publications reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff, officers, or Board of Directors of the Public Policy Institute of California. All errors are our own. PUBLIC POLICY INSTITUTE OF CALIFORNIA Board of Directors John E. Bryson, Chair Retired Chairman and CEO Edison International Mark Baldassare President and CEO Public Policy Institute of California Ruben Barrales President and CEO San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce María Blanco Vice President, Civic Engagement California Community Foundation Gary K. Hart Former State Senator and Secretary of Education State of Cali fornia Robert M. Hertzberg Partner Mayer Brown LLP Walter B. Hewlett Director Center for Computer Assisted Research in the Humanities Donna Lucas Chief Executive Officer Lucas Public Affairs David Mas Masumoto Author and farmer Steven A. Merksamer Senior Partner Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Gross & Leoni, LLP Constance L. 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San Francisco, CA PUBLIC POLICY INSTITUTE OF CALIFORNIA 500 Washington Street, Suite 600 San Francisco, California 94111 phone: 415.291.4400 fax: 415.291.4401 www.ppic.org PPIC SACRAMENTO CENTER Senator Office Building 1121 L Street, Suite 801 Sacramento, California 95814 phone: 916.440.1120 fax: 916.440.1121" } ["___content":protected]=> string(102) "

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" ["_permalink":protected]=> string(95) "https://www.ppic.org/publication/business-climate-rankings-and-the-california-economy/r_411jkr/" ["_next":protected]=> array(0) { } ["_prev":protected]=> array(0) { } ["_css_class":protected]=> NULL ["id"]=> int(8696) ["ID"]=> int(8696) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "1" ["post_content"]=> string(0) "" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-05-20 02:39:56" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(3976) ["post_status"]=> string(7) "inherit" ["post_title"]=> string(8) "R 411JKR" ["post_type"]=> string(10) "attachment" ["slug"]=> string(8) "r_411jkr" ["__type":protected]=> NULL ["_wp_attached_file"]=> string(12) "R_411JKR.pdf" ["wpmf_size"]=> string(6) "443148" ["wpmf_filetype"]=> string(3) "pdf" ["wpmf_order"]=> string(1) "0" ["searchwp_content"]=> string(89551) "Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy Jed Kolko, David Neumark, and Marisol Cuellar Mejia Supported with funding from the David A. Coulter Family Foundation and the Donald Bren Foundation http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 2 Summary Many national organizations compile and publish state -level business climate rankings or “ indexes.” These indexes are based on measures of state policies and other factors that are thought to affect the health of businesses and hence the economic prosperity of a state . These indexes tend to fall into two groups , those that consider the business climate in terms of productivity, including measures of the quality of life and human capital, and t hose that emphasize taxes, regulation, and other costs of doing business. California ranks poorly on many indexes , particularly those focusing on taxes and costs . At the same time, the state’s employment, wages, and output continue to grow at or above the national average, raising the question of why California’s economic performance is better than its business climate rankings suggest it should be, and also what th is implies for the usefulness of these rankings. We find that business climate indexes that focus on productivity exhibit essentially no relationship to economic growth. In contrast, some of the indexes that focus on taxes and costs demonstrate a clear relationship with employment growth and, to a less er extent, wage and G ross State Product growth. We find that a few sub -indexes, each capturing a narrower set of policies than the overall business indexes they belong to, exhibit a stronger relationship with economic growth than do the broader indexes. The sub -indexes we examined indicate that economic growth is associated with a smaller share of government spending on welfare and transfer payments and also a more uniform and simple corporate income tax structure. These factors —not the overall tax rate or the overall size of government —demonstrate the strongest relationship with economic growth in our analysis. But factors beyond the control of policy —for instance , a state’s weather, population density, and industry mix —demonstrate a stronger relationship with economic growth than the measures included even in the tax -and -cost -focused indexes. California’s poor ranking among the business climate indexes focusing on taxes and costs is offset by natural advantages (in part icular , good weather ), and these favorable factors enable California’s economy to perform reasonably well. In sum, many concerns about the business climate in California are probably overstated, since factors beyond the control of policymakers matter more in determining why some states experience stronger economic gains than others. Still, our findings imply that a better business climate would promote faster economic growth in California. Contents Summary 2 Contents 3 Tables 4 Figures 5 Introduction 6 The Debate over California’s Business Climate 7 Business Climate Rankings 8 The Puzzle of California’s Economic Growth 12 Economic Growth: The Influence of Non-Policy Factors 13 Findings: Business Climate Indexes, Policy Factors, and Economic Growth 16 Explaining the California Puzzle: Why Does California Do Better Than Its Policies Predict? 18 Rela tionship between Business Climate Sub- Indexes and Economic Growth 21 Taxes 23 Welfare and Transfer Payments 23 Other Policy Areas 24 Conclusions 26 References 28 About the Authors 31 Acknowledgments 31 Technical appendices to this paper are available on the PPIC website: http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/other/411JKR_appendix.pdf http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 4 Tables Table 1. State rankings vary widely across indexes 9 Table 2. Indexes emphasize different factors in determining their business climate rankings 11 Table 3. Taxes -and-costs indexes predict economic growth but productivity indexes do not 16 Table 4. Sub-indexes focus more narrowly on the specific types of policies that affect economic performance 22 http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 5 Figures Figure 1. California’s business climate ranks favorably on measures of productivity but poorly in terms of taxes and costs 12 Figure 2. Taxes -and-cost business climate indexes predict growth, but other non-policy factors are more important 19 Figure 3. California’s natural advantages more than offset unfavorable business climate condtions in the state 20 http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 6 Introduction One of the fundamental goal s of government policy is to encourage economic growth , and state government s use a variety of strategies to encourage this growth—for example, job training, education, and infrastructure development, as well as trying to lighten the burden of business regulation and taxes. At the same time, policies seeking to protect workers, promote equity, improve the environment, or achieve other social goals are sometimes seen as discouraging economic growth , especially if they require taxes or regulation s that impose costs on businesse s or reduce people’s incentives to work . However, t hese same taxes and regulations might improv e quality of life and make c ertain locales more attractive to businesses and workers —ultimately even contributing to economic growth . Thus , t he relationship between any particular policy and economic growth is complex. And the complexity increases when we consider all of the policies that states might use to encourage economic growth and all of the policies designed to achieve other ends but that nonetheless may also affect economic performance. In spite of this difficulty, w e must consider these policies together rather than in isolation because they seldom operate in a vacuum . For instance, taxes that increase the cost of doing business may also finance investments—s uch as transportation infrastructure—that support business growth . Although determining the right balance between economic growth and other goals must be addressed through the polit ical process , a crucial research question underlying the policy debate is the degree to which taxes, regulations, and other policies hinder or promote business development and economic performance. In this re port, we examine the relationships between a large set of business climate indexes , developed and published by a variety of national organizations, and several measures of economic performance. These indexes summarize numerous policies and other factors likely to affect economic growth and have become an important part of the policy debate about growth. We present detailed information on what the indexes capture , analyze their relationship with e conomic growth, and assess why some business climate indexes are more strongly associated with the economic outcomes we study than others are. We also broaden the analysis to consider other factors —such as climate and geography —that may affect these same economic outcomes and which, if ignored, may obscure the true relationship between business climate indexes and economic performance. We use the results of our analysis to provide a better understanding of California’s business climate , looking closely at why California’s economic achievement is better than some of its business climate rankings would imply. Because the business climate indexes tend to be broad, encompassing many different types of policies and other measures, we also examine the “sub -indexe s” of several indexes , some of which turn out to be more strongly associated with economic growth. These sub -indexes focus on narrower, better-defined sets of policies, such as regulatory measures, corporate income tax structure, and welfare and income-transfer policies. Our objective is to provide insights for state policymakers interested in identifying policy changes that could increase economic growth in the short - or medium- term. We also identify which sets of poli cies have little relationship with economic growth, and we compare how strongly business climate indexes and non- policy factors beyond states’ immediate control are associated with economic performance. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 7 The Debate over California’s Business Climate The question of how government policies affect economic growth is often couched in terms of the business climate, especially at the state level ; and a cottage industry of state business climate rankings or indexes continues to fuel this debate. 1 Numerous organizations publish business climate rankings, including the Progressive Policy Institute ; the Information, Technology and Innovation Foundation, in conjunction with the Kauffman Foundation ; the Corporation for Enterprise Development ; the Tax Foundation ; the Milken Institute ; the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council ; the Pacific Research Institute ; and the Cato Institute. 2 These business climate indexes figure prominently in policy debates , perhaps most commonly in arguments for lowering taxes and relaxing regulations in states that do poorly on indexes that emphasize these policies . 3 Conversely, states that do well on such indexes—presumably because taxes, for example, are low —often tout these indexes or rankings in trying to attract businesses. 4 Although debate often focuses on a particular ranking that supports one point of view, actual characterizations of states’ business climates are often more nuanced. S ome states ranked poorly in terms of taxes are ranked favorably along other dimensions, such as quality of life measures, including crime rates and health, or on education and human capital . Although these latter types of business climate indexes seem to figure less prominently in policy debate s, states tout these rankings as well, 5 sometimes in the context of criti cizing indexes that focus only on taxes and regulations or other dimensions on which a state does not fare well . 6 P oliticians and organizations use these business climate indexes —often selectively —to support their point of view. Testifying before Governor Schwarzenegger’s Commission on the 21 st Century Economy, the California Chamber of Commerce —in arguing that “Any changes to the tax system should be undertaken primarily with the health of the economy in mind” —cited the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate index, which rank s California 48 out of 50 states, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council’s Small Business Survival index, which ranks California 48 out of 51 states, and CFO Magazine’s State Tax Survey , which rank s California the worst i n the country. 7 Yet the Chamber’s testimony fail s to mention the State New 1 For simplicity, we refer to “ indexes.” To clarify the language we use below, a higher value of the index implies a better rating of the business climate —so that the ranking is closer to 1. 2 We use the rankings from these organizations as well as others in our empirical analysis. 3 For recent examples of such arguments, see http://www.cagop.org/index.cfm/capitol -update_785.htm (viewed November 2, 2009), http://cssrc.us/web/19/publications.aspx?id=5547&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1 (viewed November 2, 2009), http://www.mpnnow.com/opinions/guest_essays/x624508858/New -study-affirms-New -Yorks-woeful-tax -climate (viewed No vember 2, 2009), http://www.platteinstitute.org/research/comments/tax -foundation-nebraskas-business-tax-climate -improving (viewed March 25, 2011 ), and http://www.njprofoundation.org/pdf/ffd4.pdf (viewed November 2, 2009) . 4 For recent examples, see http://www.dad69.state.pa.us/revenue/cwp/view.asp?A=104&Q=258387 (viewed November 2, 2009), http://www.sdreadytowork.com/dbisd/ (viewed November 2, 2009), and http://www.whywyoming.org/about.aspx (viewed November 2, 2009). 5 See, for example, http://www.georgia.org/WhyGeorgia/ProBusinessAtmosphere/Pages/Rankings.aspx (viewed November 2, 2009), http://www.michigan.gov/gov/0,1607,7 -168 -46485 -168205 --,00.html (viewed N ovember 2, 2009), and http://www.state.ny.us/governor/press/pdf/press_0608091.pdf (viewed November 2, 2009). 6 See, for example, http://www.wslc.org/reports/Outside -EC-1.pdf (viewed November 2, 2009), http://www.aradvocates.org/assets/PDFs/Economic -Development -in-Arkansas -8-5-09.pdf (viewed March 25, 2011 ), http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2009/10/02/business-climate -rankings-are -meaningless/ (viewed November 2, 2009), and http://www.minnpost.com/community_voices/2009/05/14/8787/minnesotas_business_climate_and_the_budget (viewed November 2, 2009). 7 See http://www.calchamber.com/headlines/pages/calchambertestimonytotaxcommissioneconomyjobsclimateshould bepriorityin examiningcaliforniataxstructure.aspx (viewed November 3, 2009). http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 8 Economy Index, which ranked California eighth in the nation in 2008, or the Corporation for Enterprise Development’s Development Report Card for the States- Business Vitality index, which ranked the state fourth in 2007. Such oft -conflicting information and a discussion of state business climate indexes are the jumping off point for this report. W e examine numerous business climate indexes and their sub -indexes in order to ass ess what they say about California’s business climate and to better understand which factors contribute to a healthy business climate . B usiness Climate Rankings To explore the different and sometimes conflicting views of a state’s business climate, we gathered detailed information on eleven well-known business climate indexe s covering a wide variety of policies . We also collected information on the sub -index rankings of as many of the indexes as possible . Appendix A describes these indexes and sub-indexes in detail. As the discussion in the preceding section suggests, these eleven indexes rank states quite differently because they weight different factors . Table 1 shows rankings for California and other states often compared to California, whether because of their size (Texas, New York, Florida) or proximity (Arizona, Nevada, Oregon). 8 California’s rank ranges from a high of 4 th on two indexes to a low of 47 th on two other indexes. 9 Such differences across states are not uncommon. In fact, across all 50 states, every state but one ranks in the top 20 on at least one index, and every state ranks in the bottom half on at least one index. 10 New York is similar to C alifornia in having both favorable and unfavorable rankings among these eleven indexes , and generally by the same indexes; for example, both states are ranked poorly—indeed, among the worst —by SBTC, SBSI, CDBI, EFI, and EFINA , yet are ranked near the top b y some of the other indexes . Texas, in contrast, is ranked high by the same indexes that give low ratings to California and New York but is ranked lower by s ome of the indexes that give California and New York a relatively high rating (for example, DRCS -DC and DRCS -P) . A nd the same is true for other states not shown in the table . Based on these indexes, nearly every state could be praised for having a good business climate or criticized for having a bad one, using evidence from at least one of these indexes. With so many ways to describe the business climate, the right question is not only whether the business climate matter s for economic growth , but also which, if any, of the business climate indexes help predict economic growth, and which policies captured by the business climate indexes are the most important predictors of economic growth. 8 The business climate rankings are defined in the notes to the table. 9 For any given index (except FPRCNG), states tend to rank similarly over time. Thus the average rank for a state on a given index over time is similar to that state’s rank on that index in any one year. 10 For the rankings for all states, see Table A4 in Appendix A . http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 9 TABLE 1 State rankings vary widely across indexes NOTES: The table presents state rankings between 1992 and 2009, averaged across years. For any given index (except FPRCNG), states tend to rank similarly over time. Thus the average rank for a state on a given index over time is similar to that state’s rank on that index in any one year. See Table A4 in Appendix A for a complete listing of rankings for all states. SNEI = State New Economy Index. DRCS -P = Development Report Card for the States -Performance DRCS -DC = Development Report Card for the States -Development Capacity DRCS -BV = Development Report Card for the States -Business Vitality SCI = State Competitiveness Index SBTC = State Business Tax Climate Index SBSI = Small Business Survival Index CDBI = Cost of Doing Business Index EFI = Economic Freedom Index EFINA = Economic Freedom Index of North America FPRCNG = Fiscal Policy Report Card on the Nation's Governors. State SNEI DRCS -P DRCS-DC DRCS -BV SCI SBTC SBSI CDBI EFI EFINA FPRCNG Mean Min Max California 4 31 17 4 20 45 46 47 47 43 31 31 4 47 Arizona 17 33 37 33 30 27 23 27 19 7 27 25 7 37 Florida 21 31 33 28 32 5 8 28 27 6 16 21 5 33 Nevada 26 27 42 32 35 4 2 32 13 16 20 23 2 42 New York 12 23 18 21 35 49 45 49 50 48 12 33 12 50 Oregon 15 23 10 28 14 9 40 20 33 37 39 24 9 40 Texas 15 47 32 6 25 7 7 26 19 5 13 18 5 47 http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 10 The contradictory rankings among these indexes occur because each index emphasizes different variables or components in measuring the quality of the business climate. We examined the emphasis or weight that each of these indexes places on these variables and present our findings in Table 2, grouping the individual variables under three broad categories: taxes and costs; productivity, and other. 11 The table shows the percentage of emphasis or weight (out of 100) that each index places on the three broad categories and the 14 types of variables they include. 12 As indicated by the shading in t he table, the eleven indexes we examined are clustered into two groups, based on the variables they emphasize. The first five indexes (SNEI, DRCS -P, DRCS -DC, DRCS -BV, and SCI) focus most of their attention on productivity or quality of life, and we refer to this set of indexes as the “productivity” cluster. The next five indexes (SBTC, SBSI, CDBI, EFI, and EFINA) focus on taxes and other cost components, and we refer to this set of indexes as the “taxes and costs” cluster. 13, 14 11 The “other” category includes resource efficiency, environment measures, and international tr ade and migration measures. 12 See Appendix A for additional details. Percentages shown in the table are calculated as follows: Based on review of the indexes, we created 14 categories to classify each index’s underlying components, with the goals of trying to be as accurate as possible in capturing how each index classifies its underlying variables, and making comparisons across indexes in terms of their components. We use d the list of variables in each index and assigned to each variable a weight according to each index’s methods. 13 The eleventh index (FPRCNG) places considereable weight on taxes, but also considers size of government important, which make s this index quite independent of the other five in the “taxes and costs” cluster. 14 Note that we gro up ”welfare and transfer payments” with taxes and costs even though we treat equity outcomes as contributing to quality of life. But net of the income distribution, higher welfare and transfer payments implies more redistribution via taxes. The latter impl ies more deadweight loss from taxation, and, perhaps more importantly, greater work disincentives, which can lower the level of econom ic activity. In addition (and likely reflecting this argument), as Table 2 shows, and as is explained in more detail in Ap pendix A, the indexes that emphasize taxes and costs are the only ones that put any weight on welfare and transfer payments. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 11 TABLE 2 Indexes emphasize different factors in determining their business climate rankings Percent of emphasis on e ach factor SNEI DRCS -P DRCS-DC DRCS -BV SCI SBTC SBSI CDBI EFI EFINA FPRCNG Taxes and costs 4 21 100 94 100 100 100 100 Cost of doing business (excluding taxes) 4 9 9 80 1 22 Size of government 7 9 15 22 67 Tax rates and tax burden 2 100 47 20 19 33 33 Regulation and litigation 29 41 Welfare and transfer payments 2 24 22 Productivity 90 80 92 75 65 6 Quality of life 20 12 23 3 Equity 20 Employment, earnings and job quality 40 5 Business incubation 25 20 53 9 Human capital 3 20 7 Infrastructure 20 2 3 Technology, knowledge jobs, and digital economy 62 20 23 19 Other 10 20 4 25 14 Resource efficiency / environment 20 4 7 External sector 10 25 7 http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 12 Because indexes in a cluster emphasize similar components , states often rank consistently well or poorly on indexes within a cluster. For example, referring back to Table 1, we see that all of the indexes in the taxes - and -costs cluster rank California between 43th and 47th. We find more variation in how Californ ia is ranked among the indexes in the productivity cluster, which likely reflects the greater variety of variables included in these indexes . But still, California ranks relatively high in four of the five indexes in the cluster, and the worst ranking is o nly 31st (for DRCS -P), well above all of its rankings in the tax es-and -costs cluster . A lthough states often rank consistently well or poorly on indexes within a cluster, there is generally no clear pattern of states ranking consistent ly well or poorly acr oss clusters . As shown in Figure 1, California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts rank highly on indexes in the productivity cluster and poorly on indexes in the taxes -and -costs cluster. 15 In contrast, Colorado, Utah, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Dela ware, rank favorably i n both clusters, whereas Hawaii, New Mexico, and West Virginia rank unfavorably in both. FIGURE 1 California’s business climate ranks favorably on measures of productivity but poorly in terms of taxes and costs The Puzzle of California’s Economic Growth California’s wide-ranging rankings on these business climate index es yield different and hard- to-reconcile views of the California economy. So h ow has economic growth in California compared with the nation overall? Over the past 30 years, employment growth in California has averaged 1.1 percent annually, similar 15 To create this figure, we first standardized the indexes. We then computed the average across years for each index and averaged t hose scores by cluster . AK AL AR AZ California CO CT DE FL GA HI IA ID IL IN KS KY LA MA MD ME MI MN MO MS MT NC ND NE NH NJ NM NV NY OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VA VT WA WI WV WY -2 -1 0 1 2 -2 -1 0 1 2 Productivity cluster Taxes -and -costs cluster http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 13 to the U.S . average of 1.2 percent , and California’s growth tracks U.S. growth closely year to year. When California’s growth lags U .S . growth, it is due to slowdowns in sectors disproportionately concentrated in California, as happened in the early 1990s ( contraction in the aerospace and defense industries), the early 2000s ( bursting of the high- tech bubble), and since 2006 ( downturn in construction and mortgage finance). Yet in most years, California’s economic growth exceeds that of the nation overall (Kolko and R eed, 2008). California’s total output growth, as measured by G ross State Product (GSP), has remained above U .S . levels for the past decade: From 1997 to 2008 (the latest year for which data are available ), real output grew 3.6 percent annually in Californi a compared to 2.7 percent in the United States. Some of the recent concern with California’s economic growth —despite its close tracking of the nation’s economic growth —may arise because of comparison s with the past: California used to outpace the nation by more than it has recently . From 1950 to 1980, California’ s employment growth averaged 3.6 percent annually —well above the U .S . average of 2.2 percent for the same period, and even further above both California an d U.S . average growth since 1980. Thus a pu zzle emerges: Although California’s recent economic growth is near the national average, the state ranks poorly on many business climate indexes, particularly those in the taxes -and -costs cluster. It may be tempting, therefore, simply to disregard these indexes as poor predictors of economic performance, at least for California , and therefore discourage researchers, the policy community, and the media from taking them seriously. However, a simple comparison of California’s near-national -average economic performance and its poor rankings on business climate indexes focusing on taxes and costs may fail to tell the whole story. As we discussed above, different indexes rank California differently, so some of the business climate rankings may be more predictive of economic performance than others. Each of the indexes also include s numerous policy measures, some of which may contribute to economic growth while others in the same index may not. Furthermore, simpl istic comparison s among the various busine ss climate indexes overlook the possibility that California’s economic performance may depend on factors beyond the reach of policy, such as weather and geography, which are not captured i n the indexes , and that California’s poor business climate , if such is the case, is offset by these other favorable factors. Thus, once other, non-policy factors that might contribute to growth are taken into account, some business climate indexes , or their sub -indexes , may shed further light on which policies do contribute to economic growth and what, if anything, California can do to increase its economic growth. Economic Growth: The Influence of Non -Policy Factors Factors beyond the immediate control of state and local policymakers must surely affect economic growth as well. 16 A s we noted a bove, California’s recent economic downswings—in the early 1990s, the early 2000s, and the current recession —occurred during slumps in specific industries that were disproportionately concentrated in California. Elsewhere, too , local economic fortunes depend on locally dominant industries — for example, automobiles in Michigan, finance in New York, and oil and gas in the Gulf Coast region. In the short -term, policymakers probably can do little to change the industry composition of their region, even if investments in education or infrastructure might , over the long-term, help shift a local economy from one set of industries to another. Natural features, such as climate and proximity to waterways, also influence the location of ec onomic activity and affect the composition and growth of local economi es. Historically, 16 Appendix B describes academic research on how well business climate indexes and the policy components that constitute them predict economic growth. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 14 proximity to waterways has facilitated the trade of manufactured goods, al though as the U.S. economy has become a largely service- based economy, the advantage of coastal loc ations has diminished. The shift to a service- based economy has also meant that fewer jobs are in industries tied to natural resources, such as coal or forests, and that their locations can be based on other factors. Population density can also affect growth, and in principle the effect could be in either direction —enhancing growth through the beneficial effects of proximity to other businesses, workers, and knowledge (what urban economists call “agglomeration economies”) , or slowing growth due to cong estion, higher land costs, and lack of room for expansion. Finally, al l else equal, workers are willing to accept lower wages to live and work in more appealing places, so businesses not tied to specific locations for other reasons can lower their labor co sts by locating in places that have amenities such as a milder climate. 17 Of course, the factors affecting economic growth might vary at the local or regional level . Metropolitan areas can have different patterns of industrial composition, workforce characteristics, and local policies —and hence, different patterns of economic growth . Earlier PPIC research has shown that regions within California do not always grow in concert and indeed have different “business climate s” (Dardia and Luk, 1999). 18 Despite the economic variation within states —especially large states such as California—we focus on business climate indexes and policy components at the state level. Although state boundaries do not necessarily reflect distinct labor or product markets , or have any other inherent economic meaning, state governments do formulate and establish important economic policies ; and the tendency of business climate indexes to rank states rather than metropolitan areas or other regions reflect s the expected importance of taxes, regulations, investments, and other policy actions undertaken at the state level. 17 The relationships between amenities, wages, and growth have been explored in academic work by Roback (1982), Glaeser et al. ( 2001), and many others. 18 Much analysis of local and regional economic growth looks at metropolitan areas, which are defined by th e U.S. Office of Management and Budget and are intended to represent areas with a “high degree of social and economic integration,” as evidenced by commuting and other patterns. See http://www.census.gov/population/www/metroareas/metroarea.html (viewed May 7, 2010). http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 15 How should economic growth be measured? In analyzing the relationship between economic growth and the business climate indexes and non- policy factors discussed above, we considered several measures of growth —specifically, growth in employment, wages, and Gross State Product (GSP). 1 These measures provide a broad view of the economic health of a state and are the principal outcomes considered by researchers and policymakers in their economic policy debates. Employment growth receives particular attention. In the recent recession and its aftermath, the media and policymakers have closely tracked changes in employment (or related meas ures such as unemployment and underemployment) in assessing the severity of the recession, the extent of the economic recovery, and the success (or lack of success) in federal recovery efforts. 2 Of course, the private sector also expresses a strong interest in employment growth. The California Chamber of Commerce, for example, issues an annual list of “job killer” bills pending before the state legislature. 3 Policymakers also care about the wages that jobs pay —wages reflect residents’ standard of living a nd generate tax revenue 4—so we include total wages in our analysis of economic growth. 5 And we also look at GSP, the state analog of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which measures the overall output of a state’s economy. GSP includes the sum of wages (labor income), capital income (returns to business owners, corporations, and other owners of capital), and business taxes. 1 We also studied growth in employment at new business establishments, for which some of the results differ in important way s from those for employment, wage, and GSP growth. However, this outcome measure is less closely tied to overall economic growth. Discussion of this outcome measure and results is reported in Technical Appendices C and D . 2 For a few examples, see http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=8967119 (viewed November 11, 2009), http://www.busines sweek.com/investing/content/sep2009/pi20090924_606185.htm (viewed November 11, 2009), and http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/10/29/national/main5446350.shtml (viewed Nove mber 11, 2009). 3 The 2009 list included bills regarding such things as energy regulations for new housing, workers’ compensation, sick days, and health care taxes. See http://www.calchamber.com/governmentrelations/pages/jobkillers2009.aspx (viewed November 11, 2009). 4 Of course, there are different ways that total wages can grow, and a state’s policies might be judged as more successful if they create high -wage jobs ra ther than low -wage jobs. Reflecting this policy goal, for example, New Mexico offers a tax credit for high -wage jobs; see http://www.edd.state.nm.us/businessAssistance/incentives /ind ex.html (viewed November 11, 2009). If evidence pointed to growth in employment but not in total wages, this could reflect substitution of low -wage for high -wage jobs —not a positive outcome. Typically, though, our evidence points to the same types of polic ies increasing employment growth and wage growth (when they have an effect), suggesting that employment gains are coming from wages that are roughly the same, on average, as the existing stock of jobs. 5 See, for example, http://www.riedc.com/about/mission- and-strategy/strategy-1 (viewed November 11, 2009), htt p://www.google.com/webhp?tab=mw#hl=en&source=hp&q=high+wage+jobs&aq=f&aqi=g1&oq=&fp=8bd4816e1 661ba1a (viewed November 11, 2009), and http://www.treoaz.org/About-TREO-Economic- Blueprint -Jobs.aspx (viewed November 11, 2009). http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 16 Findings: Business Climate Indexes, Policy Factors, and Economic Growth In this section we show which of the various business climate indexes, their sub-indexes , and other factors predict economic growth, and implication s for the debate about California’s business climate . 19 We first estimate the strength of the statistical relationships between the business climate indexes and the economic outcomes—g rowth in employment, wages, and GSP —controlling for other factors that might be associated with the indexes or the outcomes, including climate, population density, industrial mix, and proximity to a coast . This shows how well business climate indexes predict state economic performance and suggests why some states grow faster than others . Next, we turn to the “California puzzle” we posed earlier —i.e., why the state has been able to a chieve about -average economic performance in spite of its poor rankings on some of the business climate indexes. Finally, we explore some of the sub-indexes to determine which polic y areas are likely to be most helpful in promoting the state ’s economic growth. Employment, Wages, and Gross State Product The business climate indexes that focus on productivity -related variables have littl e or no predictive power for employment growth at the state level . In sharp contrast, s tates ranked favorably on the business climate indexes in the tax es-and -costs cluster —that is, states with lower taxes and costs of doing business —have strong er job grow th. These results, and the results for wage and GSP growth, are summarized in Table 3. TABLE 3 Taxes -and- costs indexes predict economic growth but productivity indexes do not NETS employment growth QCEW employment growth QCEW wage growth GSP growth Productivity cluster No effect or possibly negative No effect or possibly negative No effect or possibly negative No effect or negative effect Taxes and costs cluster Clear positive Clear positive Positive No effect or positive effect NOTE: The growth measures we use are explained in detail in Appendix C. The NETS and QCEW provide alternative measures of employment growth. The evidence for wage growth is largely consistent with that for employment. The business climate indexes that emphasize productiv ity-related variables do not predict wage growth. In contrast, the indexes in the taxes -and -costs cluster do predict wage growth, although the evidence in this case is a bit weaker than for employment growth. And finally, when we look at GSP growth, the evidence is similar although not as strong. Once again, the business climate indexes that emphasize productivity -related variables do not predict GSP growth, but there is some 19 Our intention here is to provide a brief overview of our analysis and findings for a nonacademic audience. Appendix C contains a detailed discussion of our data and methods, and Appendix D provides a lengthier discussion of the results. In addition, although not reported in main text, we also examined the relationships between the business climate indexes and employment change attributable to births of new busine ss establishments. These results are described in Appendix D . http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 17 evidence —although it is weaker than the evidence for wage and employment g rowth—that policies that lead to a higher ranking in the tax- and cost -related business climate indexes may lead to faster growth of GSP. 20 In sum, the indexes in the productivity cluster are not associated with growth in jobs, wages, or GSP, but all five i ndexes in the taxes -and -costs cluster are associated with faster economic growth in each of these areas , with some of the indexes predicting economic growth more strongly than others. T he taxes -and -costs indexes are even more strongly predictive of employ ment and wage growth in the manufacturing sector than they are of growth in the overall economy. 21 We look specifically at manufacturing for two reasons. First, manufacturing, which traditionally provides reasonably high -paying jobs for middle- class workers, is often singled out in the political debate for having a declining share of employment and thus deserving of specific tax credits and economic development efforts. S econd, manufacturing is more “footloose” than other sectors. Unlike retail and personal services (which serve local customer bases ) and natural resource industries such as mining (which are tied to limited locations ), many manufacturing industries produce for national or international markets and have more flexibility in choosing where to locate. Our analysis indicated that t he taxes -and -costs indexes do not , however, have a stronger predictive effect on economic growth in footloose industries other than manufacturing—e.g., information, finance, and professional services —than on economic growth in the economy overall. 22,23 To summarize, the main conclusions that emerge from the analysis of the business climate indexes are that indexes focusing on taxes and costs of doing business have some predictive power for economic growth, especially f or manufacturing, while productivity -focused indexes do not. Interpretation and Limitations of Our F indings Our research leading to these conclusions is limited in four ways , each of which dictates caution in drawing strong policy conclusions from the results. First, because of the relatively short sample period available to us (1992 –2008), we are unable to estimate relationships between business climate indexes and economic outcomes over a long period in the past, and then examine how business climate indexes forecast economic outcomes for a more recent period. 24 S econd, because state rankings on any one index change little over our time period, we cannot study the effect s of sharp changes in state policies on economic growth for a given state. 25 The best we can do is to add a detailed set of control variables —described above—that capture other differences between states that could be correlated with rankings on business climate indexes and also could predict economic growth. 20 Moreover, for the GSP results, the actual estimated effects (without regard to statistical significance) are almost uniformly negative for the business climate indexes in the productivity clus ter, and are uniformly positive for those in the taxes- and-costs cluster. 21 See Appendix D and Table D7. 22 Kolko and Neumark (2007) identify some sectors as more “footloose” than others based on gross job creation and destruction du e to relocation into and out of California. 23 We also explored whether the relationship between business climate indexes and econo mic performance is similar in years when the national economy grew faster and in years when the national economy grew more slowly, and did not find any evidence that a poor busine ss climate harms states more in recessions than in regular times. Rather, a p oor business climate appears to slow growth throughout the business cycle. 24 In technical terms, we would like to assess the ability of the business climate indexes to predict economic outcomes “out of sample.” 25 The inter -temporal correlations of business climate indexes within states are quite high and statistically significant, typically in the 0.7 –0.9 range for gaps of two or more years and well over 0.9 for consecutive years for most indexes. FPRCNG is the exception: the co rrelation over time for that index is usually in the 0 –0.3 range for pairs of years. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 18 The third limitation is that economic growth might affect policy at the same time that policy affects economic growth. For example, faster economic growth may lead to lowering of tax rates, or to smaller welfare and transfer payments. Given that lower tax rates and smaller welfare and transfer payments will be reflected in a “better” business climate ranking, this feedback (or “reverse causality”) creates a bias towards finding a positive effect of the business climate on economic growth. When we study the sub -indexes, which reflect narrower sets of policy options than the broader indexes , we try to assess how likely it is that our estimates reflect actual policy effects. But we do not claim a definitive causal interpretation of ou r findings. Fourth, some policies that may matter for economic growth are hard to quantify and compare across states. Uncertainty about future changes to laws and regulations, for instance, might slow business investment, but measuring the level of this uncertainty would be challenging. Business climate indexes therefore omit factors that might in fact be important for economic growth. Nonetheless, our evidence that the tax -and -cost related business climate indexes predict economic growth , combined with C alifornia’s poor rankings on these indexes, implies that, at a minimum, policymakers need to take seriously concerns that high taxes and costs of doing business slow California’s economic growth. Explaining the California Puzzle: Why D oes California Do Better Than Its Policies Predict? Having found that the business climate indexes that emphasi ze taxes and costs help predict state economic growth, the California puzzle we raised earlier comes back into question: California ranks near the bottom o f the bu siness climate indexes in the taxes-and -costs cluster , yet its economic performance is about average. Why, then, does California’s economic growth substantially outperform its rankings on business climate indexes that predict growth ? Taking the evidence on business climate indexes at face value , California’s economic growth is held back because of policies that lead to a poor ranking on these indexes. But California is also fortunate to have natural advantages with regard to other factors that boost economic performance. The two forces are offsetting, so despite its relatively poor business climate, California’s economic growth comes in near or above the national average. We document this in two steps. First, we show the relative importance of the business climate and the other factors. And second, we illustrate what this implies for California. Figure 2 reports information that provides comparisons of the estimated effects of the business climate indexes in the taxes -and -costs cluster and these natural advantages and other factors on employment, wage, and GSP growth. 26 In parti cular, we report estimates for similar changes in a state’s position in the rankings (from 40th to 10th ) in the business climate indexes, and the other factors including industry composition, population density, and climate mildness; these latter three were found to have consistent and significant relationships with employment, wage, and GSP growth. 26 The b ars in Figure 2 represent the average standardized coefficients from Appendix Tables D1– D4, 1-year changes, with controls. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 19 FIGURE 2 Taxes -and- cost business climate indexes predict growth, but other non- policy factors are more important NOTE: Figures show the effects of moving from a rank of 40th to a rank of 10th on each measure. For all four economic growth outcomes in the figure, the effect of a better business climate index is positive . But the figure shows that the effects of both industry composition and a mild climate are larger—and often much larger. Thus, although a more favorable business climate ranking on tax -and -cost indexes increases job growth, other factors fully or largely beyond the control of policymakers are more important. 27 27 An additional factor we considered was the presence of research un iversities, which may have a long-term effect on the development of industries and on economic growth. Like population density and industry composition, the presence of research universities changes only slowly over time: the creation and development of a new university often takes decades. Our measure is doctorate degrees granted per capita, which reflects both the number and size of research universities: Massachusetts and Rhode Island are the highest -ranking states on this measure. Including doctorate de grees granted per capita as a control had little effect on the relationship between the business climate indexes and economic growth, and its own relationship with economic growth was typically negative and sometimes significant. We interpret this result a s evidence of robustness of our business climate index findings, not as evidence that higher education does not matter: our ind ustry composition control variable likely already captures some of the effect of universities, and other elements of the higher e ducation system—like community colleges —might also matter for growth. -0.6 -0.4 -0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 Businessclimate indexIndustrycompositioneffect PopulationdensityMildness Growth rate NETS employment growth -0.6 -0.4 -0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 Businessclimate indexIndustrycompositioneffect PopulationdensityMildness Growth rate QCEW employment growth -0.6 -0.4 -0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 Businessclimate indexIndustrycompositioneffect PopulationdensityMildness Growth rate QCEW wage growth -0.6 -0.4 -0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 Businessclimate indexIndustrycompositioneffect PopulationdensityMildness Growth rate GSP growth http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 20 Moreover, these non- policy factors that are important for economic growth are particularly favorable in California. In Figure 3 the contribution of the business climate index and the combined effect of these non- policy factors to California’s relative economic growth is shown. E ach economic growth measure (employment, wages, GSP) is represented by a pair of bars . The first bar in each pair reflects the extent to which the policies captured by California’s business climate index es contribute to growth . 28 In each case , California’s unfavorable ranking results in a negative contribution to economic growth. The second bar in each pair reflects the overall contribution of the five non -policy factors to economic growth: mild weather, dry weather, industry composition, population density, and proximity to a coast. Together, these factors —mild weather especially —boost California’s economic growth rate , and their positive contribution to California’s economic growth rate is about three times as large as the negative contribution of the policies included in the three tax -and -cost business climate indexes that rank California ’s business climate 43 rd, 45th, and 47th among all states . California ’s natural advantages thus favor economic growth in the state , and more than offset its unfavorable business climate ranking . 29 Even further, our findings imply that if we could imp rove the state’s poor business climate, California’s economic growth would outp ace most other states. 30 It should be noted as well that California is unique among large states for scoring poorly on these business climate indexes but having such favorable natural advantages. 31 FIGURE 3 California’s natural advantages more than offset unfavorable business climate cond itions in the state 28 The figure represents the relationship between the business climate index and control variables and each economic growth outc ome (from Appendix Tables D1 –D4), multiplied by California’s business climate index score and values for control variables. The business climate estimates are based on the average from models with SBTC, EFI, and EFINA indexes, which were the ones that exhibit a consistent positiv e relationship with growth. See Appendix D for more d etails and for related analysis for all states. 29 California of course has both a dry and mild climate. It also ranks highly (9th) in terms of the industrial composition factor that captures how strongly each state’s industries grew nationally. One disadva ntage for California is its high ranking (2nd) on population density—a measure that is largely based on the population per square mile in the areas of a state that are more populated —which as it turns out is associated with slower growth. (See Appendix Tab le C1 for additional descriptive information on these and other variables.) 30 Taking away the estimated negative contribution of the business climate, California’s rank would rise from 28 th to 18th for employment (QCEW), 25th to 14 th for aggregate wages, and 15th to 11 th for GSP. Only for employment measured by the NETS does California’s rank remain below the median, rising from 33 rd to 27 th. 31 See Appendix D and Figure D2 in particular for comparisons of California with other individ ual states. -0.6 -0.4 -0.20.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 1.2 Employment(NETS) Employment (QCEW) Wages GSP Percentage points of annual economic growth Economic growth Tax and cost policies Natural advantages Contribution to economic growth: http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 21 Relationship between Business Climate Sub- Indexes and Economic Growth To this point we have focused on the business climate indexes because they are clearly prominent in the public debate. But these indexes are summaries, often combining a broad range of policies and other factors constituting the tools available to policymakers for improv ing the business climate and hence economic performance. Although, in our view, the different indexes clearly capture different dimensi ons of policy and are therefore informative about which broad classes of policies (taxes and costs versus productivity) are more strongly associated with economic growth, the relationships between more specific types of policies and economic growth have th e potential to offer more useful policy guidance. It is not feasible to estimate the effect s of individual policies on economic growth , given the scores of individual policies that could be relevant. 32 Fortunately, most of the business climate indexes repo rt sub- indexes that focus on specific types of polic ies. We can therefore dig deeper into why some business climate indexes are more predictive of economic growth and say something more specific about the types of policies that appear to be most important for economic growth. T hree of the taxes-and-costs indexes (SBTC, EFINA, and EFI ) and four of the productivity indexes include sub-indexes. 33 Each of SBTC’s five sub -indexes focus on a particular type of taxation, such as the corporate income tax or the sales tax, while EFINA’s three sub - indexes and EFI’s five sub -indexes cover not only taxes but also the level and composition of government spending, regulatory and judicial factors, and other costs of doing business. The EFINA “size of government” sub -ind ex, despite its name, consists mostly of measures reflecting the extent of spending on welfare, “social security,” 34 and transfer payments; the components of this sub -index focus more on the composition of government expenditure than the size of government per se. EFINA’s “size of government” sub -index is similar to EFI’s “welfare -spending” sub -index: Both consist primarily of components that fall into our “welfare and transfer payments” sub -category. The productivity indexes include sub -indexes covering qua lity-of -life measures, equity and technology factors, and other potential contributors to growth. Among the productivity indexes, many sub -indexes consist partly or largely of components that we consider closer to economic outcomes than components that exp lain economic outcomes: For instance, the DRCS-P index includes an “employment” sub -index, which includes measures of employment growth. 35 Thus e ach sub -index captures a more narrowly -defined set of policies than the overall indexes. Table 4 shows Californi a’s rank among states on each sub-index . 32 See Appendix Table A2 for the list of policies that make up the indexes, keeping in mind that many of the entries in that tab le cover multiple policies as well. With only 50 states, and with policies that typically change slowly if at all, it is not possible to isolate statistically the effect of every policy. Consistent with these concerns, existing research demonstrates that the effects of individual policy components are sensitive to the other components included in or excluded from a model (see Appendix B ). 33 SCI publishes sub -index rankings, but the sub -indexes change over time and index scores (as opposed to state rankings) are only available in some years. For these reasons, we could not include the SCI sub -indexes in our analysis. Significantly, the three taxes-and-costs indexes that provide sub -indexes include the two with the strongest relationship with economic growth (SBTC and EFINA). 34 This is not the usual meaning of “social security,” but instead refers more generally to unemploym ent insurance, disability insurance, workers compensation , and public pensions , all defined at the state level. We believe the specific data item to which this refers is the state government “Insurance Trust Expenditure” category in the Census Bureau’s gov ernment finance statistics (http://www.census.gov/govs/www/06classificationmanual/chapter05.html#p2c534 , viewed July 19, 2010). 35 More details on the sub -indexes are given in Appendix A , and Appendix D dicusses how we address the problem of the inclusion of economic outcomes in the productivity -related sub-indexes. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 22 TABLE 4 Sub- indexes focus more narrowly on the specific types of policies that affect economic performance Taxes- and-costs sub-indexes California’s rank Productivity sub-indexes California’s rank SBTC corporate tax 43 SNEI knowledge jobs 12 SBTC individual income tax 44 SNEI globalization 14 SBTC sales tax 39 SNEI economic dynamism 3 SBTC property tax 10 SNEI digital economy 5 SBTC unemployment insurance tax 19 SNEI innovation capacity 2 EFINA size of government 42 DRCS-P employment 37 EFINA labor market freedom 38 DRCS-P earnings and job quality 37 EFINA takings and discriminatory taxation 44 DRCS-P equity 34 EFI fiscal 42 DRCS-P quality of life 39 EFI regulatory 49 DRCS-P resource efficiency 2 EFI welfare spending 43 DRCS-BV competitiveness of existing business 20 EFI government size 25 DRCS-BV entrepreneurial energy 4 EFI judicial 15 DRCS-DC human resources 36 DRCS-DC innovation assets 2 DRCS-DC financial resources 4 DRCS-DC amenities resources & natural capital 49 DRCS-DC infrastructure resources 21 NOTES: See notes to Table A5 in Appendix A for more details and sources. California's value is the average state rank across years. California’s low rank ing on the SBTC corporate, individual income, and sales tax sub -indexes reflect, in part, the higher rates of these taxes in California, as well as how these taxes are structured. Across the taxes- and- costs sub -indexes, California rank s among the top 20 states only on the SBTC property tax and unemployment insurance sub -indexes and the EFI judicial index. 36 More generally, it is ranked in the bottom 10 on many of the sub -indexes, including the S BTC corporate and individual income tax sub -indexes, the EF INA size of government and “ takings and discriminatory taxation ” sub -indexes, and the EFI fiscal, regulatory, and welfare spending sub -indexes. 37 California’s rating varies on the productivity sub -indexes , with the state ranking among the top five states on multiple sub -indexes yet well below average on some, including DRCS -P’s “quality of life” index and DRCS - DC’s “human resources” index, which capture a broad range of social, education, and health measures. Of the thirty sub -indexes we examined ( shown in Table 4 ), three stand out in having a consistent , statistically significant relationship with our economic growth measures (employment, wages, and GSP ). These three sub -indexes —the SBTC corporate tax index, the EFINA size- of-government index, and the EFI welfare- 36 California’s property tax revenue relative to income is well below the national average. Califo rnia’s ranking on EFI’s judicial index is favorable, but other rankings of the cost to business of litigation, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute of Legal Reform index, scores California quite unfavorably. The EFI’s judicial index does not include the Chamber’s litigation ranking. 37 California’s low ranking on the welfare spending sub -indexes is consistent with its ranking on many welfare -related measures. For example, it is among the more generous states with regard to monthly benefits per participant in the Women, Infants, and Children Special Nutrition Program (www.fns.usda.gov/pd/25wifyavgfd$.htm , viewed August 10, 2010), Food Stamp benefits ( www.fns.usda.gov/pd/18SNAPavg$PP.htm, viewed March 25, 2010), and average monthly TANF benefit for families and maximum TANF benefit for families ( http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi- bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_green_book&docid=f:wm006_07.pdf , viewed August 10, 2010). http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 23 spending index —all fall within the taxes-and -costs index cluster. ( California ranks 43rd, 42nd, and 43rd, respectively, on these sub -indexe s.) None of the sub -indexes within the productivity cluster has a consistent, significant relationship with economic growth, just as none of the overall productivity indexes does. 38 Taxes The SBTC’s corporate tax sub -index has a positive and statistically significant relationship with growth of both wages and GSP . None of the other tax sub -indexes reported by SBTC demonstrates a consistent relationship with economic growth. The SBTC corporate tax sub -index includes multiple variables that fall into two groups. The first group consists of measures of the corporate tax rate structure, which includes the top marginal tax rate but also the number of tax brackets and their threshold levels: A lower top rate and a flatter rate structure contribute to a better sub -index score. The second group consists of measures of the corporate tax base: M ore generous net-opera ting-loss deductions and fewer corporate tax credits are two of the measures that contribute to a better sub -index score. 39 California ranks poorly because it has a relatively high (though flat) tax rate, fail s to conform to federal corporate tax depreciation schedules, and ha s a corporate Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). 40 Even though the top marginal rate is one component of the SBTC corporate tax sub -index, we found that the relationship between this sub -index and economic growth is driven by aspects of the corporate tax other than the top marginal rate itself , including its simplicity, the breadth of the tax base, and whether different firms face similar effective rates after taking both marginal rates and dedu ctions into account. However, n either the SBTC corporate tax sub -index nor any of the other sub -index es makes it possible to determine which of these other aspects of the corporate tax is most relevant for economic growth. As a consequence, the findings do not lead to specific recommendations on improving tax policy but suggest that complexity of the corporate tax code as a factor inhibiting economic growth merits further attention. W elfare and Transfer Payments As noted above, two other sub-indexes, EFINA’ s “size of government” and EFI’s “welfare -spending ,” exhibit large, positive, and statistically significant relationship s with multiple economic growth outcomes. Despite the different names of these two sub -indexes, our investigation into their underlying components reveals that they are both primarily measures of the composition of government expenditures and, more specifically, reflect the extent of government spending on welfare and transfer payments (as opposed to education, transportation, debt service, and other types of government spending). 41 Because EFINA and EFI both include sub -indexes covering many types of taxes and other costs businesses face —including regulation, taxes, and policies affecting labor costs—our finding that the composition of government expenditures matters for economic growth is based on an analysis that controls for a wide range of other taxes and costs. In particular, the overall level of taxes or government spending (reflected in the tax -focused EFINA “takings and discr iminatory taxation” sub-index and the EFI “fiscal” sub -index) does 38 See Appendix D for further details on these results. In our regressions, we include all sub -indexes of a given index in the same model. 39 Net -operating -loss deductions, in effect, tax firms on their average profitability over time, which the SBTC index considers desirable; tax credits complicate the tax system and narrow the tax base, which the SBTC index treats as undesirable. 40 The 2009 SBTC Background Paper calls out California for these three features of its corporate tax in explaining how individual variables enter into its corporate tax sub -index. Available at http://www.taxfoundation.org/fi les/bp58.pdf (viewed October 21, 2010). 41 See Appendix Table A5 . http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 24 not appear to have a consistent relationship with economic growth, even though the composition of that spending does. Although this evidence does not necessarily imply that lower welfare and transfer payments cause higher growth, economic theory suggests reasons for such an effect . Any program whose benefits or eligibility depends on low -income or non -employment status pr ovides some disincentive to work or incentive to work less if employed: If benefits are reduced or eliminated when someone becomes employed or receives more income, recipients in effect face a tax on their labor equal to the reduction in benefits. Even with federal welfare policy changes that have reduced these work disincentives, 42 welfare- type programs and transfer payments —by their nature —still tend to create work disincentives. 43 Nonetheless, the finding that the business climate sub -indexes capturing welfare and transfer payments predict that more spending on welfare and transfers slows economic growth suggests the need for continued attention to how California’s income -support and related programs can continue to provide an adequate safety net while stil l creating strong incentives to work. Other Policy Areas Aside from the three sub -indexes discussed above, none of the sub -indexes in the tax -and -cost indexes demonstrate s a consistent, significant relationship with our measures of economic growth ; nor do any of the sub -indexes in the productivity cluster . Why do only three out of nearly thirty sub -indexes demonstrate a positive relationship with economic growth? One reason may be that business climate indexes and sub -indexes require quantifying factors th at potentially affect economic growth, and some types of policies are particularly challenging to quantify. Regulations and legal costs of doing business, captured in EFI’s “regulatory” and “judicial” sub -indexes, are examples of factors that are difficult to measure. The cost s of laws and regulations to businesses depend not only on the letter of the law but also on how states or localities with identical regulations on paper implement or enforce them ; the subtleties of these implementation or enforcement processes are even more difficult to quantify than the letter of the law. Uncertainty over future regulatory or legal actions could affect economic activity , and how states differ in this uncertainty would also be challenging to quantify. Furthermore, while some policies, such as the individual income tax or the minimum wage, exist in some form in most states and therefore are easy to include in business climate indexes, other measures may be unique to one or a few states, such as California’s AB 32 greenhouse gas emissions reduction law. These unique policies, taxes, or regulations tend not to be included in indexes because it is challenging to separate the effect of a factor unique to one state from the possibility that the state is unique in some other, unmeasurable way. These are only some of the reasons why business climate indexes omit policies that might in fact be important for economic growth. Another reason why some of the sub -indexes may not demonstrate a strong relationship with growth is that a number of them include policies designed to achieve social or economic goals other than growth. F or instance, the DRCS -P “quality of life” sub -index includes health status, voting participation, and charitable 42 For a review of past programs and the subsequent reforms, see Blank (2002). 43 These programs are means -tested, and hence eligibility for them or the amount of support paid is phased out as income rises beyond some level. And, except for the EITC, these programs make some support available to those who are not working, inevitably creating incentives for some people not to work. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 25 contributions, none of which may necessarily lead to or reflect economic growth but which may nonetheless be desirable outcomes. Other sub -indexes might include policies that contribute to growth in sectors of the economy that are too small to result in a statistically significant relationship between the sub -index (or index) and economy -wide economic growth: S everal SNEI sub-indexes and the DRCS -DC “innovation assets” index include measures related to science, engineering, and technology. A further reason may be that our study covers a relatively sho rt time p eriod—less than two decades. While some policies, such as tax changes or hiring credits, may have (or are claimed to have) immediate effects on economic behavior, some of the policies included in the sub -indexes might a ffect economic growth only over the long -term rather than within the time period available to analy sis. Spending on infrastructure, technology, and education are plausible examples of polic y areas in which the economic effects take decades to be realized. In sum , looking at the sub -indexes enables us to go beyond the broad finding that lower taxes and costs are generally associated with faster economic growth, and allows us to draw more specific conclusions about which types of policies are associated with economic growth, even thoug h our analysis is still limited to sets of policies rather than individual policies . http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 26 Conclusions Our findings enable us to arrive at a number of broad conclusions about economic growth, the value of business climate indexes, and the California business climate debate . The factors that demonstrate the strongest relationship with economic growth are, to a large extent, beyond the reach of policy. These factors include weather and geography, which reflect natural advantages or disadvantages that states and localities are heir to , as well as industry composition and density, which may be the outcome of cumulative long -term policy decisions and cannot be significantly altered within a short time period by policy decisions. Several business climate indexes emphasizing taxes and costs also demonstrate a significant relationship with economic growth, al though these relationships are not as strong as the relationship between the non -policy factors (noted above) and growth. None of the business climate indexes emphasizing productivity show s a positive and significant association with employment, wage, or GSP growth. We find that t hree of the sub -indexes in the taxes -and -costs cluster have a positive and significant relationship with economic growth . Two are primarily measures of the composition of government spending and imply that lower welfare and transfer payments are associated with highe r economic growth. The third is a composite measure of numerous features of the corporate income tax, and our analysis shows that the structure of the corporate tax , not the top marginal rate, is responsible for this sub -index’s positive relati onship with economic growth. Because the policies captured in these indexes and sub -indexes may respond to (as well as promote) economic growth, it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions about policy changes that would lead to faster economic growth. Nonetheless, the relationships we find are plausible in terms of economic s: Welfare and transfer payments are a disincentive to work and could therefore hold back growth, and factors that contribute to a worse ranking on the SBTC’s corporate tax sub -index —for example, corporate tax credits and greater complexity of the tax structure —increase costs of compliance and create economic distortions that could impede growth. But without evidence of a causal relationship and greater clarity about exactly which pol icies within a sub -index are most strongly associated with economic growth, these findings are suggestive rather than definit ive prescriptions of policies that are likely to increase economic performance. Although o ur findings suggest that the business climate indexes have value in pointing out policy areas that have a rel ationship with economic growth, the indexes have limitations. First, they are broad in their sweep , combining many factors that have no observed relationship with growth with , at most , a few factors that do . E ven sub- indexes can be too broad for definitive policy conclusions. The one sub -index associated with economic growth that we investigated more closely, the SBTC corporate tax sub -index, include s a variable— the top marginal corporate tax rate —that often lies at the center of policy debates but that, in fact, exhibits no relationship with economic growth. And many factors that plausibly affect growth are hard to quantify and incorporate into a bus iness climate index. Thus as useful as some of these indexes and sub -indexes may seem to be for suggesting approaches to increasing economic growth, deeper analysis of the effects of individual policies , as well as attempts to refine the measurement of the most significant sets of policies, are needed. Our findings do appear to help resolve the puzzle of California’s business climate and its economic performance. Our cross-state analys is finds that factors beyond policy, such as a mild climate , demonstrate a stronger relationship with economic growth than any of the business climate indexes do . California ’s http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 27 economy grows at roughly the same rate as the national average because the state’s favorable natural advantages and historical conditions more than off set the potentially adverse effects of its business climate , as captured by the taxes -and -costs indexes. At the same time , our estimates imply that a more friendly business climate (as measured by these indexes ) would give a boost to California ’s economic performance. T he clearest policy recommendation s resulting from this study would be for California to examine its welfare and transfer policies , with an eye toward reduc ing work disincentive s, and to simplify corporate tax ation by better align ing the state tax with the federal corporate tax and by reducing credits and other non- uniform treatment of corporate income. These features —not the overall tax rate or the overall size of government —demonstrate the strongest relationship with economic growth in our analysis. The larger point, however, is that over the short - and medium -term, state policy goes only part way in explaining why some states grow faster than others. 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Tannenwald, Robert . 1996. “State Business Tax Climate: How Should It Be Measured and How Important Is It?” New England Economic Review (January/February ): 23 –38. Tannenwald, Robert. 1997. “State Regulatory Policy and Economic Development .” New England Economic Review (March/April ): 83–99. Varshney, Sanjay, and Dennis Tootelian . 2009. “Cost of State Regulations on California Small Business Study. ” El Dorado Hills: Varshney and Associates. Wasylenko , Michael. 1997. “Taxation and Economic Development: The S tate of the Economic Literature.” New England Economic Review (March/April ): 37–52. Wasylenko, Michael, and Therese McGuire. 1985. “Jobs and Taxes: The Effect of Business Climate on States’ Employment Growt h Rates. ” National Tax Journal 38 : 497– 511. http://www.ppic.org/main/home.asp Business Climate Rankings and the California Economy 31 About the Author s Jed Kolko is an associate director of research at the Public Policy Institute of California, responsible for managing the institute's economy research. He has conducted numerous studies of the California economy, economic development, ho using, and technology policy. Prior to coming to PPIC in 2006, he was vice president and research director at Forrester Research, a technology consultancy, where he managed the company’s consumer market research businesses and served as the lead researcher on consumer devices and access technologies. Jed has also worked at the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, the World Bank, and the Progressive Policy Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in e conomics from Harvard University. David Neumark is a Bren fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, a professor of economics at the University of California –Irvine, a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor. He has pu blished numerous studies and books on school -to -work programs, workplace segregation, sex discrimination, the economics of gender and the family, affirmative action, aging, minimum wages, and living wages. He is an associate editor of the Review of Economi cs of the Household , and on the editorial boards of Industrial Relations, Contemporary Economic Policy , Journal of Urban Economics , and Journal of Labor Research . He has also held positions as professor of economics at Michigan State University, assistant professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania, and economist at the Federal Reserve Board. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University. Marisol Cuellar Mejia is a research associate at the Public Policy Institute of California’s Sacram ento Center, where her work focuses on economic development. Before joining PPIC, she worked at Colombia’s National Association of Financial Institutions as an economic analyst, concentrating on issues related to the manufacturing sector and small business. She has also conducted agricultural and commodity market research for the Colombian National Federation of Coffee Growers and the National Federation of Palm Oil Growers of Colombia. She holds an M.S. in agricultural and resource economics from the University of California, Davis. Acknowledgments We are grateful to McKinley Blackburn, Michael Dardia, Ellen Hanak, Debbie Reed, Michael Teitz , and Robert Tannenwald for helpful comments on the research, and to Gary Bjork and Lynette Ubois for editorial help . 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