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Spatial Sorting: Why New York, Los Angeles and DetroitAttract the Greatest Minds as well as the Unskilled

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  • Jan Eeckhout
  • Roberto Pinheiro
  • Kurt Schmidheiny

Abstract

We propose a theory of skill mobility across cities. It predicts the well documented city size-wage premium: the wage distribution in large cities first-order stochastically dominates that in small cities. Yet, because this premium is reflected in higher house prices, this does not necessarily imply that this stochastic dominance relation also exists in the distribution of skills. Instead, we find there is second-order stochastic dominance in the skill distribution. The demand for skills is non-monotonic as our model predicts a “Sinatra” as well as an “Eminem” effect: both the very high and the very low skilled disproportionately sort into the biggest cities, while those with medium skill levels sort into small cities. The pattern of spatial sorting is explained by a technology with a varying elasticity of substitution that is decreasing in skill density. Using CPS data on wages and Census data on house prices, we find that this technology is consistent with the observed patterns of skills.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2010/wp-cesifo-2010-12/cesifo1_wp3274.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3274.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3274

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Keywords: matching theory; sorting; general equilibrium; population dynamics; cities; wage distribution;

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  1. Morris A. Davis & Francois Ortalo-Magne, 2011. "Household Expenditures, Wages, Rents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(2), pages 248-261, April.
  2. Christian Broda & Ephraim Leibtag & David E. Weinstein, 2009. "The Role of Prices in Measuring the Poor's Living Standards," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 77-97, Spring.
  3. Pieter A. Gautier & Michael Svarer & Coenraad N. Teulings, 2005. "Marriage and the City," CESifo Working Paper Series 1422, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Toni M. Whited & Jonas D.M. Fisher & Morris A. Davis, 2010. "Macroeconomic Implications of Agglomeration," 2010 Meeting Papers 1330, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Duranton, Gilles & Gobillon, Laurent & Puga, Diego & Roux, Sébastien, 2012. "The Productivity Advantages of Large Cities: Distinguishing Agglomeration from Firm Selection," IZA Discussion Papers 6502, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Klaus Desmet & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2009. "Spatial development," Working Papers 2009-18, Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados (IMDEA) Ciencias Sociales, revised 28 May 2010.
  7. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1997. "The Career Decisions of Young Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 473-522, June.
  8. Christian Broda & David E. Weinstein, 2008. "Understanding International Price Differences Using Barcode Data," NBER Working Papers 14017, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Koo, Jahyeong & Phillips, Keith R & Sigalla, Fiona D, 2000. "Measuring Regional Cost of Living," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 18(1), pages 127-36, January.
  10. Sieg, Holger & Smith, V. Kerry & Banzhaf, H. Spencer & Walsh, Randy, 2002. "Interjurisdictional housing prices in locational equilibrium," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 131-153, July.
  11. 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.
  12. Jan Eeckhout & Philipp Kircher, 2010. "Sorting and Decentralized Price Competition," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(2), pages 539-574, 03.
  13. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki & Stephen Redding, 2009. "Inequality and Unemployment in a Global Economy," CEP Discussion Papers dp0940, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  14. Behrens, Kristian & Duranton, Gilles & Robert-Nicoud, Frédéric, 2010. "Productive cities: Sorting, selection and agglomeration," CEPR Discussion Papers 7922, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Duranton, Gilles & Jayet, Hubert, 2005. "Is the Division of Labour Limited By the Extent of the Market? Evidence from French Cities," CEPR Discussion Papers 5087, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Thomas J. Holmes & John J. Stevens, 2002. "Geographic concentration and establishment size: analysis in an alternative economic geography model," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-17, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  17. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf'S Law For Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767, August.
  18. Robert E. Lucas & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2002. "On the Internal Structure of Cities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1445-1476, July.
  19. Thomas J. Holmes & John J. Stevens, 2002. "Geographic Concentration and Establishment Scale," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(4), pages 682-690, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Suzanne Kok, 2013. "Town and city jobs: Your job is different in another location," CPB Discussion Paper 246, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
  2. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Duranton, Gilles & Gobillon, Laurent & Roux, Sébastien, 2012. "Sorting and local wage and skill distributions in France," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(6), pages 913-930.
  3. Michèle Belot & Marco Francesconi, 2013. "Dating Preferences and Meeting Opportunities in Mate Choice Decisions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(2), pages 474-508.
  4. Antonio accetturo & Alberto Dalmazzo & Guido De Blasio, 2011. "Skill Polarization in Local Labour Markets under Share-Altering Technical Change," Department of Economics University of Siena 625, Department of Economics, University of Siena.

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