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Spatial Sorting: Why New York, Los Angeles and Detroit attract the greatest minds as well as the unskilled

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  • Eeckhout, Jan
  • Pinheiro, Roberto
  • Schmidheiny, Kurt

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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8151.

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Date of creation: Dec 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8151

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

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References

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  1. PierrePhilippe Combes & Gilles Duranton & Laurent Gobillon & Diego Puga & Sébastien Roux, 2009. "The Productivity Advantages of Large Cities: Distinguishing Agglomeration from Firm Selection," SERC Discussion Papers 0027, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
  2. 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.
  3. Jan Eeckhout & Philipp Kircher, 2010. "Sorting and Decentralized Price Competition," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(2), pages 539-574, 03.
  4. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki & Stephen Redding, 2009. "Inequality and Unemployment in a Global Economy," CEP Discussion Papers dp0940, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  5. Thomas J. Holmes & John J. Stevens, 2004. "Geographic concentration and establishment size: analysis in an alternative economic geography model," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(3), pages 227-250, June.
  6. Behrens, Kristian & Duranton, Gilles & Robert-Nicoud, Frédéric, 2010. "Productive cities: Sorting, selection and agglomeration," CEPR Discussion Papers 7922, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. 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.
  8. Pieter A. Gautier & Michael Svarer & Coenraad N. Teulings, 2005. "Marriage and the City," CESifo Working Paper Series 1422, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. Duranton, Gilles & Jayet, Hubert, 2011. "Is the division of labour limited by the extent of the market? Evidence from French cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 56-71, January.
  10. Morris A. Davis & François Ortalo-Magné, 2007. "Household Expenditures, Wages, Rents," CESifo Working Paper Series 2156, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. Desmet, Klaus & Rossi-Hansberg, Esteban, 2009. "Spatial Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 7479, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. 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.
  13. Toni Whited & Jonas Fisher & Morris Davis, 2013. "Macroeconomic Implications of Agglomeration," 2013 Meeting Papers 893, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  14. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1995. "The career decisions of young men," Working Papers 559, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  15. Robert E. Lucas & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2002. "On the Internal Structure of Cities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1445-1476, July.
  16. 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.
  17. David Albouy, 2008. "Are Big Cities Bad Places to Live? Estimating Quality of Life across Metropolitan Areas," NBER Working Papers 14472, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Christian Broda & David E. Weinstein, 2008. "Understanding International Price Differences Using Barcode Data," NBER Working Papers 14017, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf'S Law For Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767, August.
  20. 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.
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Citations

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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. Suzanne Kok & Bas ter Weel, 2014. "Cities, Tasks and Skills," CPB Discussion Paper 269, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
  4. Alberto Dalmazzo & Antonio Accetturo & Guido de Blasio, 2012. "Skill Polarization in Local Labour Markets under Share-Altering Technical Change," ERSA conference papers ersa12p288, European Regional Science Association.
  5. 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.
  6. Donald R. Davis & Jonathan I. Dingel, 2012. "A Spatial Knowledge Economy," NBER Working Papers 18188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Kok, Suzanne & ter Weel, Bas, 2014. "Cities, Tasks and Skills," IZA Discussion Papers 8053, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Fabien CANDAU & Elisa DIENESCH, 2013. "Globalization, Spatial Sorting and the Geography of Education," Working Papers 2012-2013_7, CATT - UPPA - Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, revised Dec 2013.

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