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Cities, Workers, and Wages: A Structural Analysis of the Urban Wage Premium


  • E. D. Gould


Workers earn higher wages in cities vs. rural areas. This gap could arise because cities make workers more productive, or it could be the result of a non-random selection of workers into cities based on their ability and their endogenous history of career choices. To untangle these issues, this paper estimates a dynamic programming model, which embeds the choice of residing in a city or rural area within a model of career choices over time. After controlling for all the sources of selection and endogeneity, the estimates indicate that a given worker does earn more in the city for white-collar work, but not for blue-collar work. In addition, city work experience is found to be worth more than rural work experience in the rural area for white-collar work, but not for blue-collar work. These results support the interpretation that cities make white-collar workers more productive and suggest that workers may consider moving to the city not only in terms of locational choice, but also as a form of human capital investment. Copyright 2007, Wiley-Blackwell.

Suggested Citation

  • E. D. Gould, 2007. "Cities, Workers, and Wages: A Structural Analysis of the Urban Wage Premium," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 74(2), pages 477-506.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:74:y:2007:i:2:p:477-506

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