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Understanding Gross Workers Flows Across U.S. States

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  • Daniele Coen-Pirani

Abstract

This paper documents and provides an explanation for the main stylized facts about net and gross workers flows across states in the U.S. While it is generally known that gross flows of population across locations are significantly larger in the United States than within most European countries (see Hassler et al., 2005), there is considerable heterogeneity in gross and net flows across locations within the United States itself. The main purpose of the paper is to test whether a simple general equilibrium search model based on Lucas and Prescott (1974)'s island economy can account for the main stylized facts. The paper builds on work by Blanchard and Katz (1992), who focus only on net, rather than gross, flows of workers and on the partial equilibrium analysis of migration decisions by Kennan and Walker (2005). I start by documenting these facts using the decennial Census of the U.S for the post-WWII period. The latter allows one to determine a respondent's state of residence in the Census year as well as five years before the Census year. This information is used to construct state-level aggregate gross and net flow rates of workers. These flows are adjusted to take into account the different demographic and industrial composition of the workforce across states and differences in other state characteristics, such as size. The key stylized facts are as follows. In the cross-sectional dimension: (1) gross inflow rates are more dispersed than net flow rates, which, in turn, are more dispersed than gross outflow rates. (2) Gross inflow and outflow rates are positively correlated. (3) Gross and net inflow rates are highly positively correlated, while net flow rates and gross outflow rates are uncorrelated. These three facts suggest that reallocation of population within the U.S. occurs mainly through variations in gross inflows (large in fast-growing states and small in slow-growing states), rather than in gross outflows. In other words, states that tend to lose populat

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Paper provided by Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business in its series GSIA Working Papers with number 2006-E68.

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Handle: RePEc:cmu:gsiawp:-236096759

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Postal: Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
Web page: http://www.tepper.cmu.edu/

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  1. Roc Armenter & Francesc Ortega, 2007. "Credible redistributive policies and migration across US States," Economics Working Papers 1022, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. David Y. Albouy, 2008. "The Unequal Geographic Burden of Federal Taxation," NBER Working Papers 13995, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Fernando Alvarez & Marcelo Veracierto, 2006. "Fixed-Term Employment Contracts in an Equilibrium Search Model," NBER Working Papers 12791, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gueorgui Kambourov & Iourii Manovskii, 2009. "Occupational Mobility and Wage Inequality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(2), pages 731-759.
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  6. Matteo Iacoviello, 2002. "House prices, borrowing constraints and monetary policy in the business cycle," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 542, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 06 Dec 2004.
  7. Northwestern University & Damba Lkhagvasuren, 2007. "Big Locational Differences in Unemployment Despite High Labor Mobility," 2007 Meeting Papers 922, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Fernando Alvarez & Marcelo Veracierto, 1999. "Labor market policies in an equilibrium search model," Working Paper Series WP-99-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  9. Roback, Jennifer, 1982. "Wages, Rents, and the Quality of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1257-78, December.
  10. Greenwood, Michael J, 1975. "Research on Internal Migration in the United States: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 397-433, June.
  11. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Prescott, Edward C., 1974. "Equilibrium search and unemployment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 188-209, February.
  12. Timothy J. Bartik, 1991. "Who Benefits from State and Local Economic Development Policies?," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number wbsle, December.
  13. Jovanovic, Boyan & Moffitt, Robert, 1990. "An Estimate of a Sectoral Model of Labor Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 827-52, August.
  14. Jordan Rappaport, 1999. "Why are population flows so persistent?," Research Working Paper 99-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  15. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Regional Evolutions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 1-76.
  16. Davis, Steven J. & Haltiwanger, John, 1999. "Gross job flows," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 41, pages 2711-2805 Elsevier.
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