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Cities and Skills

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  • Edward L. Glaeser
  • David C. Mare

Abstract

This paper examines the productivity (and wage) gains from locating in dense, urban environments. We distinguish between three potential explanations of why firms are willing to pay urban workers more: (1) the urban wage premium is spurious and is the result of omitted ability measures, (2) the urban wage premium works because cities enhance productivity and (3) the urban wage premium is the result of faster skill accumulation in cities. Using a combination of standard regressions, individual fixed effects estimation (using migrants) and instrumental variables methods, we find that the urban wage premium does not represent omitted ability bias and it is only in part a level effect to productivity. The bulk of the urban wage premium accrues over time as a result of greater skill accumulation in cities.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4728.

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Date of creation: May 1994
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Publication status: published as Glaeser, Edward L. and David C. Mare. "Cities And Skills," Journal of Labor Economics, 2001, v19(2,Apr), 316-342.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4728

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  1. Robert H. Topel, 1990. "Specific Capital, Mobility, and Wages: Wages Rise with Job Seniority," NBER Working Papers 3294, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Antonio Ciccone & Robert E. Hall, 1995. "Productivity and the density of economic activity," Economics Working Papers 120, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  3. Krugman, Paul & Elizondo, Raul Livas, 1996. "Trade policy and the Third World metropolis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 137-150, April.
  4. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 483-99, June.
  5. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1992. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(4), pages 1137-60, November.
  6. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  7. James E. Rauch, 1991. "Productivity Gains From Geographic Concentration of human Capital: Evidence From the Cities," NBER Working Papers 3905, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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