Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Applied Economics

Committee Chair(s)

Man-Keun Kim


Man-Keun Kim


DeeVon Bailey


Reza Oladi


Ryan Bosworth


Vijay Kannan


The big-box retail stores such as Wal-Mart and Target have become the focus of many studies researching their impacts on local economic outcomes. This dissertation studies three related topics: (i) the dynamic interrelationship among the presence of the big-box stores, retail wage, and employment, (ii) the impact of the big-box retailers on personal income growth, and (iii) the dynamic interrelationship between the presence of big-box retailers and personal income growth. The research draws important insights with potential implications for regional developers and policy makers.

The first essay analyzes the dynamic relationship among the presence of the big-box retailers, retail wage, and employment at the county level for 1986-2005. A vector autoregression model is applied on panel data. Impulse response functions and variance decompositions are also presented. Results suggest that the presence of big-box stores decreases retail wages and increases retail employment. Retail employment has a higher impact on the retailers’ location decision than retail wage. The results also show that the presence of Wal-Mart drives the above-mentioned effects, while the presence of Target is insignificant.

The second essay investigates the impact from the presence of big-box retailers on personal income growth in U.S. counties between 2000 and 2005 - based on neoclassical growth models of cross-country income convergence. Results suggest that counties having both Wal-Mart and Target stores experienced slower growth in personal income. After controlling for spatial autocorrelation, similar to the first essay, the effect of Wal-Mart’s presence on personal income growth is dominant in terms of statistical significance relative to Target’s.

The third essay expands the second essay and investigates the dynamic interaction between the presence of big-box retailers and personal income growth over time at the county level for the period 1987-2005, using a panel vector autoregression model. For this analysis, the earning shares of natural resources and manufacturing sectors are included - assuming that all the variables are endogenous to one another. The findings indicate that big-box retailers negatively affect personal income growth, which is consistent with the second essay. However, personal income growth has an insignificant effect on the big-box retailers’ location decision.