One of the few arguments I hear in favor of the subsidization of the Gwinnett Braves stadium is that Gwinnett’s active economic development policy has allowed Gwinnett to prosper. There is no doubt that Gwinnett County is much wealthier today than it was many years ago, and it is one of the wealthier counties in the area. Is this the product of county’s development policy, or does the growth reflect the success of Atlanta?
This is simple to test by comparing Gwinnett County’s median household income to the average median household income of all other Atlanta MSA counties. If Gwinnett’s development policies are superior to other counties’ policies, then it’s changes in income should deviate from the others in a positive direction. The graph below shows the growth over time.
It is hard to imagine the relationship being much tighter than this. However, because these numbers are so big, it is difficult to spot deviations. The following graph maps the percent-change in median household income from year to year.
From 1980–present, the average non-Gwinnett Atlanta MSA growth in median household income has averaged 4.58%, compared to Gwinnett’s average growth rate of 3.87%. Thus, it appears that Gwinnett’s growth is similar to other metro-Atlanta counties, and it certainly has not been superior to its neighbors in producing wealth for Gwinnett residents.
If you would like further information about the Gwinnett Braves stadium deal, the information is now available on the Gwinnett County website. It’s good to see government fully disclosing the information a month after the decision has been made.