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Job Decentralization And Residential Location

  • Leah Platt Boustan


    (UCLA and NBER)

  • Robert A. Margo


    (Boston University and NBER)

How does the spatial distribution of employment opportunities influence residential location? We revisit this classic question in urban economics by exploiting a natural experiment generated by the history of state capitals. Many state employees in capital cities work in centrally located government buildings that were constructed in the nineteenth century, while state workers elsewhere mirror the decentralization of the private sector. We compare the work and residential locations of state workers in capital and non-capital cities relative to other workers in their metropolitan areas. Our results suggest that assigning 1,000 jobs to the central city would attract approximately 250 working residents to the city. Evidence from other industries with historically-determined locations, including the postal service and defense contractors, corroborates our basic finding.

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Paper provided by Boston University - Department of Economics in its series Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series with number dp-177.

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Length: 32
Date of creation: Dec 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: forthcoming, G. Burtless and J. Pack, eds. BROOKINGS-WHARTON PAPERS ON URBAN AFFAIRS 2009
Handle: RePEc:bos:iedwpr:dp-177
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