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The Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis: Are There Teenage Jobs Missing in the Ghetto?


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  • David T. Ellwood
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    This paper examines the hypothesis that the extraordinarily highrates of unemployment among black youth can be linked to a geographic mismatch between the residences of black youth and the jobs they might occupy. Chicago's labor market is examined in detail. The paper reports that black youth do in fact seem to live further from jobs than white youth do. However, the differences are not great enough to generate large differences in employment rates unless geographic search costs are very high. To explore the possible impact the differences really do have,a wide variety of models are examined and estimated.These models uniformly reject the hypothesis that a geographic mismatch is a major cause for black-white differences. Blacks who live near large concentrations of jobs seem to fair only slightly better than those who live far from such concentrations. And in areas where whites and blacks live in close geographic proximity, the racial employment differences remain very large.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 1188.

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    Date of creation: Aug 1983
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    Publication status: published as Ellwood, David T. "The Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis: Are There Teenage Jobs Missing in the Ghetto?" The Black Youth Employment Crisis, edited by Richard B. Freeman and Harry Holzer, 1986, pp. 147-185, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1188

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    1. Offner, Paul & Saks, Daniel H, 1971. "A Note on John Kain's 'Housing Segregation, Negro Employment and Metropolitan Decentralization'," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 85(1), pages 147-60, February.
    2. Harrison, Bennett, 1972. "Education and Underemployment in the Urban Ghetto," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 796-812, December.
    3. Danziger, Sheldon & Weinstein, Michael, 1976. "Employment location and wage rates of poverty-area residents," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 127-145, April.
    4. Straszheim, Mahlon R., 1980. "Discrimination and the spatial characteristics of the urban labor market for black workers," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 119-140, January.
    5. Mooney, Joseph D, 1969. "Housing Segregation, Negro Employment and Metropolitan Decentralization: An Alternative Perspective," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 299-311, May.
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