Dr. Joseph Cordes
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GWIPP Research: Joseph Cordes

This page features research funded through GWIPP and performed by Joseph Cordes.

Title: Using Market Analysis of Home Values to Measure the Economic and Fiscal Effects of Multi-Use Trails

Researcher(s): Garry Young, Andrea Sarzynski, Joe Cordes, Hal Wolman, and Jeremy Larrieu

Funding: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Start Date: January 2010

Status: Current

Category: Housing Policy

Summary: Multi-use trails encourage and facilitate physical activity among all age groups. Their separation from motorized traffic makes them especially attractive for families with children.  One concrete way to evaluate the economic benefit of trails to a community is to measure their impact on housing values. Does the presence of a trail affect housing prices? Does ease of access to a trail affect housing prices? In this proposed study we will estimate the economic impact of trail presence and access on housing values in Montgomery County, Maryland.  In addition, the study will use its findings to calculate the impact of property tax revenues produced by the trails and compare those values with the construction and maintenance costs of the trails borne by the Montgomery County government.

Title: Estimating Economic Impacts of Homeland Security Measures

Researcher(s): Joe Cordes, Anthony Yezer (Economics), Garry Young, Mary Katherine Foreman, and Charlotte Kirschner

Funding: Homeland Security Institute

Start Date: 2005

Status: Completed

Category: Economic and Industrial Development Policy Studies

Summary: Information on the economic impact of policies and programs undertaken to enhance homeland security is important in the future design and evaluation of measures undertaken to enhance homeland security. This project will: (a) provide a complete list of the types of countermeasures that have been or might be proposed to reduce either the risk or the consequences of terrorist attacks; (b) produce an in-depth survey of both the economic literature and federal government "best practices" and official guidelines for estimating the economic impacts these measures; and (c) apply one or more of the methods identified in (b) to estimate the economic impact of an actual measure (or set of measures) that have been or might be implemented to reduce either the risks of, or the consequences of terrorist attacks.

Title: The Effect of State and Local Fiscal Policy on Local Economic Development

Researcher(s): David Brunori, Michael Bell, Hal Wolman (GWIPP), Joe Cordes, and Richard Green, School of Business (now at Lusk Center for Real Estate)

Funding: National Center for Real Estate Research

Start Date: August 2004

Status: Completed

Category: Economic and Industrial Development Policy Studies

Summary: Provide a synthesis and critique of current knowledge and research on 1) the factors driving local economic growth and development and 2) the effects of state and local fiscal policy upon local economic growth and development. The report will make clear where there is clear consensus, where there is disagreement, and where research is currently lacking.


Working Paper 026 - State and Local Fiscal Policy and Economic Growth and Development. Michael Bell, David Brunori, Richard Green, Hal Wolman, Joe Cordes, and Tanya Qadir, August 2005.

Title: State and Local Fiscal Systems Face the Future

Funding: National Association of Realtors

Researchers: Hal Wolman, David Brunori, Michael Bell, Pat Atkins, Joe Cordes, and Bing Juan

Start Date: July 2005

Status: Completed

Category: State and Local Fiscal Policy

Summary: The project will examine recent trends in state and local revenues and expenditures and the current condition of state and local finances. In particular, it will assess the likely impact of foreseeable or potential future economic, social, political and technological changes on state and local revenues and expenditures.


Working Paper 025 - State and Local Fiscal Trends and Future Threats, David Brunori, Michael E. Bell, Hal Wolman, Patricia Atkins, Joseph J. Cordes, and Bing Yuan, 2005.

Title The Property Tax in Fifty States: State Property Tax Policy Roundtable; Compendium of State Property Tax Regimes
Funding Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
Start Date July 2006   State and Local Fiscal Policy
Status Current    

This two-part project is a collaborative multi-year undertaking by Lincoln and GWIPP to promote research in the areas of property tax policy and administration. As a follow-up to the 2005-06 pilot project, a data collection team is compiling and classifying a wide range of material that characterizes property tax structures and processes in all fifty states to produce a "Compendium of State Property Tax Regimes." The compendium will be available as a data set, and researchers will be able to perform simple queries through an interactive web site. Key results will be presented in a series of tables, patterned after the biennial Significant Features of Fiscal Federalism , produced by the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR) through 1994. Plans are being made to update the compendium annually.

Under the contract, GWIPP will produce the following research papers: A Calculation of Effective Tax Rates; A Broad-Based Property Tax: Calculations and Implications; A Broad-Based Property Tax: Calculations and Implications; Tax and Expenditure Limitations (TELs) and Their Impact; The Increasing Use of Preferential Assessments to Subsidize Specific Land Uses.

A State Property Tax Policy Roundtable will be scheduled for Fall 2007 in Washington, DC. Papers written by GWIPP research faculty will be supplemented by several commissioned papers, focusing on the topic “Erosion of the Local Property Tax Base: Trends and Consequences.”

Title Feasibility Study of Restoring the Significant Features of Fiscal Federalism Publication for the Property Tax and its Fiscal Environment and Structure
Funding Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
Start Date September 2005   State and Local Fiscal Policy
Status Completed    

A pilot project to explore the feasibility of a new annual publication, patterned after ACIR’s Significant Features of Fiscal Federalism, that would, at least partially, fill the void since it ceased publication. Prior to its demise in the mid-1990s, the US Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR) published a widely used and acclaimed two volume annual report entitled Significant Features of Fiscal Federalism. The report was largely a compilation and organization of data on federal, state, and local revenues and expenditures, the institutional structure through which these fiscal flows occurred, and important changes in them. Significant Features has been sorely missed by both researchers and practitioners. No other publication has taken its place. If deemed feasible, the George Washington Institute of Public Policy (GWIPP) would then prepare a proposal for an annual version of such a report, to be funded and published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and disseminated jointly by Lincoln and GWIPP.

Title Soft Metrics for Critical Infrastructure Protection (Research Design)
Funding Homeland Security Institute
Start Date October 2004   Homeland Security
Status Completed    

This project involves creating a research design with two components. In the first component the GWIPP team will produce a survey methodology for measuring how the American people rank order national icons – such as national monuments, federal buildings, and significant natural landmarks – in terms of importance. In the second component the GWIPP team will develop a design for exploring how to measure the impact of a major terrorist attach on public perception in four areas – national security, governance, public confidence, and economic scope and duration.

Title State Corporate Income Tax: Can (and Should) it be Saved?
Funding American Tax Policy Institute
Start Date     State and Local Fiscal Policy
Status Completed    

This project focuses on several questions relevant to assessing the role of the corporate income tax in the system of state finance. The research documents the trends in state corporate tax to quantify the extent of the decline in corporate tax receipts. The Researchers have assembled panel data on state finances for each of the fifty states spanning the period from 1981 to 2001. The panel data has allowed evaluations of the effects of different policies on corporate tax receipts. The panel has also allowed comparisons of how the state corporate tax fares in manufacturing versus non-manufacturing states.

Title: Thin the Soup or Shorten the Line: Choices Facing Washington Area Nonprofits

Funding: Fannie Mae Foundation

Researcher(s) Pat Atkins, Joe Cordes

Start Date: November 2003

Status: Completed

Category: Washington Area Studies

Summary: Research on the state of non-profit human services agencies in the Washington, D.C. region during changing economic conditions showed that non-profits are taking short term responses to their rising client need, their increasing costs, their expanded reporting requirements, and their sluggish revenue growth. Many have dipped into reserve funds, frozen salaries, reduced direct assistance, or initiated staff layoffs. Some responsive non-profit human services agencies have begun to make longer-term adjustments by restructuring their organizations to acquire new sources of revenue, expanding private donor campaign efforts, and initiating revenue sources that are more market-based. The report particularly focused on the fiscal contributions of local governments to the human services nonprofit sector, discovering a multitude of support processes unique to each of the six jurisdictions examined.


Patricia Atkins, Mallory Barg, Joseph Cordes, and Martha Ross. Thin the Soup or Shorten the Line: Washington Area Nonprofits Adapt to Uncertain Times. The Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, August 2004.

Title Intra-Metropolitan Area Fiscal Capacity Disparities and the Property Tax: The Washington DC Region
Funding Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
Start Date     State and Local Fiscal Policy
Status Completed    

The study adapts a methodology developed by the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, to calculate disparities in the revenue capacity of local governments in the Washington,DC area. It then estimates the effect a shift to a real property tax on land only would have on these disparities. We found that the major disparities were between suburban jurisdictions; Washington D.C., the core center city in the metropolitan area, had an average revenue capacity. When revenue capacity was recalculated assuming a real property tax on land only, we found this had a slight positive effect on ameliorating differences in revenue-rising ability.