Do governments tax agglomeration rents?


Empirical evidence suggests that firms receive rents from locating in economic agglomerations and industry clusters. Using the German local business tax as a testing ground, we empirically investigate whether these agglomeration rents are taxable for local governments. The analysis exploits a rich data source on the population of German plants to construct measures for the communities’ agglomeration characteristics. The findings indicate that economic agglomerations and industry clusters exert a positive impact on the jurisdictional tax rate choice. Further analysis moreover suggests that a municipality’s potential to tax agglomeration rents depends on its firm and industry agglomeration relative to neighboring communities. To account for potential endogeneity problems, our analysis exploits long-lagged population and infrastructure variables as instruments for the agglomeration measures.


Hyun-Ju Koh, Nadine Riedel and Tobias Böhm