Time to Yell “Cut?” An Evaluation of the California Film and Production Tax Credit for the Motion Picture Industry

Michael Thom
Content Type
Journal Article
California Journal of Politics and Policy
Issue Number
Publication Date
Institute of Governmental Studies, UC Berkeley
Enacted in 2009, California’s Film and Production Tax Credit was a policy reaction to fears that the state had lost motion picture industry jobs to other states and countries. The incentive has since been allocated over $1 billion in taxpayer funding. Advocates hail the tax credit as a success, but is there evidence to support that claim? This study examines motion picture industry employment in California from 1991 through 2016 to determine the impact of the Film and Production Tax Credit and competing incentives offered by other governments. Results show the tax credit had no significant effect on changes in three occupational categories associated with the motion picture industry. Employment was similarly unaffected by competing incentives. Motion picture industry employment in California instead appears to track the national labor market. These findings were robust to several alternative measures and model specifications and advise that California policymakers should eliminate the Film and Production Tax Credit as soon as possible.
Governance, Culture, Budget, Film, Economic Policy
Political Geography
United States, California