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The Urban Wage Growth Premium: Sorting or Learning?

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  • Sabine D'Costa
  • Henry G. Overman

Abstract

This paper is concerned with the urban wage premium and addresses two central issues about which the field has not yet reached a consensus. First, the extent to which sorting of high ability individuals into urban areas explains the urban wage premium. Second, whether workers receive this wage premium immediately, or through faster wage growth over time. Using a large panel of worker-level data from Britain, we first demonstrate the existence of an urban premium for wage levels, which increases in city size. We next provide evidence of a city size premium on wage growth, but show that this effect is driven purely by the increase in wage that occurs in the first year that a worker moves to a larger location. Controlling for sorting on the basis of unobservables we find no evidence of an urban wage growth premium. Experience in cities does have some impact on wage growth, however. Specifically, we show that workers who have at some point worked in a city experience faster wage growth than those who have never worked in a city.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE in its series SERC Discussion Papers with number 0135.

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Date of creation: May 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cep:sercdp:0135

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Web page: http://www.spatialeconomics.ac.uk/SERC/publications/default.asp

Related research

Keywords: urban wage premium; agglomeration; cities; wage growth; worker mobility;

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  1. Daniel J. Graham & Patricia C. Melo, 2009. "Agglomeration economies and labour productivity: evidence from longitudinal worker data for GB's travel-to-work areas," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 33268, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. MION, Giordano & NATICCHIONI, Paolo, 2006. "The spatial sorting and matching of skills and firms," CORE Discussion Papers 2006099, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  3. Nathaniel Baum-Snow & Ronni Pavan, 2012. "Understanding the City Size Wage Gap," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 88-127.
  4. E. D. Gould, 2007. "Cities, Workers, and Wages: A Structural Analysis of the Urban Wage Premium," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(2), pages 477-506.
  5. Robert H. Topel & Michael P. Ward, 1988. "Job Mobility and the Careers of Young Men," NBER Working Papers 2649, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Diego Puga, 2009. "The magnitude and causes of agglomeration economies," Working Papers 2009-09, Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados (IMDEA) Ciencias Sociales.
  7. Di Addario, Sabrina & Patacchini, Eleonora, 2008. "Wages and the City. Evidence from Italy," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 1040-1061, October.
  8. Stephen Gibbons & Henry G. Overman & Panu Pelkonen, 2010. "Wage disparities in Britain: people or place?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 30845, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  9. Glaeser, Edward L & Mare, David C, 2001. "Cities and Skills," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 316-42, April.
  10. Hildegunn Stokke & Jørn Rattsø & Fredrik Carlsen, 2012. "Urban wage premium increasing with education level: Identification of agglomeration effects for Norway," ERSA conference papers ersa12p459, European Regional Science Association.
  11. Christopher H. Wheeler, 2005. "Cities and the growth of wages among young workers: evidence from the NLSY," Working Papers 2005-055, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  12. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Duranton, Gilles & Gobillon, Laurent, 2008. "Spatial wage disparities: Sorting matters!," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 723-742, March.
  13. Yankow, Jeffrey J., 2006. "Why do cities pay more? An empirical examination of some competing theories of the urban wage premium," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 139-161, September.
  14. Edward L. Glaeser, 1997. "Learning in Cities," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1814, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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