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Cities, Lights, and Skills in Developing Economies

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  • Dingel, Jonathan
  • Miscio, Antonio
  • Davis, Donald R

Abstract

In developed economies, agglomeration is skill-biased: larger cities are skill-abundant and exhibit higher skilled wage premia. This paper characterizes the spatial distributions of skills in Brazil, China, and India. To facilitate comparisons with developed-economy findings, we construct metropolitan areas for each of these economies by aggregating finer geographic units on the basis of contiguous areas of light in nighttime satellite images. Our results validate this procedure. These lights-based metropolitan areas mirror commuting-based definitions in the United States and Brazil. In China and India, which lack commuting-based definitions, lights-based metropolitan populations follow a power law, while administrative units do not. Examining variation in relative quantities and prices of skill across these metropolitan areas, we conclude that agglomeration is also skill-biased in Brazil, China, and India.

Suggested Citation

  • Dingel, Jonathan & Miscio, Antonio & Davis, Donald R, 2020. "Cities, Lights, and Skills in Developing Economies," CEPR Discussion Papers 14434, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:14434
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cities; Metropolitan areas; Satellite images; Skill-biased agglomeration; Zipf's law;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • R1 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • C8 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs

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