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Job Categories and Geographic Identity: A Category Stereotype Explanation for Occupational Agglomeration


  • Leung, Ming D.


I examine the phenomenon of occupational agglomeration – the observation that workers with similar skills tend to co-locate geographically. Extant explanations point to the fact that industries also tend to agglomerate – thereby creating a need for a particular type of employee to locate there. However, labor markets can pool even when propinquity to employers is not beneficial. I argue that particular types of work become associated with specific geographical locations. This association becomes a categorical stereotype – which leads employers to prefer employees from particular geographic regions because they will seem more appropriate – a form of “spatial signaling.†I test this theory in an online, virtual marketplace for freelancing services. I find that the greater the association between a particular job category and a country – what I termjob specific geographic identity– the more likelyanyfreelancer from that country will win a job in that category. I also find this effect is stronger when a freelancer has no previous relevant experience but a bad experience by a buyer (at this job/country intersection) can eliminate this positive effect. This effect holds net of other explanations such as spatial mismatch, knowledge spillovers, and input cost advantages.

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  • Leung, Ming D., 2012. "Job Categories and Geographic Identity: A Category Stereotype Explanation for Occupational Agglomeration," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt31b4c6p8, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:indrel:qt31b4c6p8

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Diamond, Charles A & Simon, Curtis J, 1990. "Industrial Specialization and the Returns to Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(2), pages 175-201, April.
    2. Michael S. Dahl & Olav Sorenson, 2012. "Home Sweet Home: Entrepreneurs' Location Choices and the Performance of Their Ventures," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(6), pages 1059-1071, June.
    3. Glenn Ellison & Edward L. Glaeser & William R. Kerr, 2010. "What Causes Industry Agglomeration? Evidence from Coagglomeration Patterns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 1195-1213, June.
    4. Hausman, Jerry, 2015. "Specification tests in econometrics," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 38(2), pages 112-134.
    5. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 991-1013, September.
    6. Todd M. Gabe & Jaison R. Abel, 2009. "Labor market pooling and occupational agglomeration," Staff Reports 392, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    7. Romer, Paul M, 1987. "Growth Based on Increasing Returns Due to Specialization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 56-62, May.
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    More about this item


    Business; Social and Behavioral Sciences; Occupational Agglomeration; Job Categories; Space; Labor Markets;

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