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Learning by Working in Big Cities

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Individual earnings are higher in bigger cities. We consider three reasons: spatial sorting of initially more productive workers, static advantages from workers’ current location, and learning by working in bigger cities. Using rich administrative data for Spain, we find that workers in bigger cities do not have higher initial unobserved ability as reflected in fixed-effects. Instead, they obtain an immediate static premium and accumulate more valuable experience. The additional value of experience in bigger cities persists after leaving and is stronger for those with higher initial ability. This explains both the higher mean and greater dispersion of earnings in bigger cities.

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Paper provided by CEMFI in its series Working Papers with number wp2013_1301.

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Date of creation: Jan 2013
Date of revision: Mar 2016
Handle: RePEc:cmf:wpaper:wp2013_1301
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  9. Baker, Michael, 1997. "Growth-Rate Heterogeneity and the Covariance Structure of Life-Cycle Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 338-375, April.
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  12. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Duranton, Gilles & Gobillon, Laurent & Roux, Sébastien, 2012. "Sorting and local wage and skill distributions in France," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(6), pages 913-930.
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  21. Bacolod, Marigee & Blum, Bernardo S. & Strange, William C., 2009. "Skills in the city," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 136-153, March.
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