Panel Paper: The Incidence of a Local Labor Demand Shock in Indian Country: How Property Institutions Affect Economic Development

Friday, November 9, 2018
8216 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Laurel Wheeler, Duke University

Since the late 1980s, tribal gaming has generated billions of dollars of revenue for American Indian and Alaska Native tribal nations located on federally recognized reservations throughout the United States. Although tribal gaming has been hailed as a means of development for economically lagging reservations, little is known about whom bears the incidence of these local labor demand shocks. In this research, I explore how labor markets and housing markets on reservations adjust to the demand shocks and whether indigenous property institutions change that calculus. Due to historical legislation, land tenure on reservations ranges from leasehold ownership of trust land, which is held in trust by the US Federal Government and is associated with the most restrictions against alienation, to private ownership of fee simple land, which is free from restrictions. In this study, I employ restricted-use Decennial and American Community Survey demographic census microdata from 1980-2014, as well as a variety of external data to estimate by land tenure type the incidence of economic shocks on Indian reservations. I account for the endogeneity of the adoption of tribal gaming using an instrumental variables approach that arises from the proximity and timing of other casino openings. I account for the endogeneity of the assignment of property rights on reservations using instrumental variables that capture historical land value.