Bartik’s research focuses on how broad-based prosperity can be advanced through better local labor market policies. This includes both policies affecting labor demand, such as state and local economic development policies, and policies affecting labor supply, such as place-based scholarships.
Bartik’s 1991 book, Who Benefits from State and Local Economic Development Policies?, is widely cited as an important and influential review of the evidence on how local policies affect economic development. Bartik is co-editor of Economic Development Quarterly, the only journal focused on local economic development in the United States.
Bartik’s recent work on economic development includes research developing a database on economic development incentive programs around the U.S. He has also developed a simulation model of incentives’ benefits and costs for local residents’ incomes, and how these benefits and costs vary with incentive design, local economic conditions, and how incentives’ budget costs are paid for.
Bartik’s research has also examined policies to promote local skills, and how these affect local prosperity. His 2011 book, Investing in Kids, examined how early childhood programs could promote local economic development. According to Nobel prize-winning economist James Heckman, “Tim Bartik has written a thoughtful book on the value of a local approach to financing and creating early interventions to foster child development.” Bartik has also done extensive research with his Institute colleagues on the effects of the Kalamazoo Promise, a pioneering place-based scholarship program intended to improve the local economy.
Bartik received both his PhD and his MS in economics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1982. He earned a BA from Yale University in political philosophy in 1975. Prior to joining the Upjohn Institute in 1989, he was an assistant professor of economics at Vanderbilt University.