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The plant size-place effect: agglomeration and monopsony in labour markets


  • Manning, Alan


This paper shows, using data from both the US and the UK, that average plant size is larger in denser markets. However, many popular theories of agglomeration – spillovers, cost advantages and improved match quality – predict that establishments should be smaller in cities. The paper proposes a theory based on monopsony in labour markets that can explain the stylized fact – that firms in all labour markets have some market power but that they have less market power in cities. It also presents evidence that the labour supply curve to individual firms is more elastic in larger markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Manning, Alan, 2007. "The plant size-place effect: agglomeration and monopsony in labour markets," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19765, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:19765

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Amiti, Mary & Pissarides, Christopher A., 2005. "Trade and industrial location with heterogeneous labor," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 392-412, December.
    2. Helsley, Robert W. & Strange, William C., 1990. "Matching and agglomeration economies in a system of cities," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 189-212, September.
    3. Dinlersoz, Emin M., 2004. "Cities and the organization of manufacturing," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 71-100, January.
    4. Thomas J. Holmes & John J. Stevens, 2002. "Geographic Concentration and Establishment Scale," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(4), pages 682-690, November.
    5. Chad Syverson, 2004. "Market Structure and Productivity: A Concrete Example," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1181-1222, December.
    6. Ciccone, Antonio & Hall, Robert E, 1996. "Productivity and the Density of Economic Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 54-70, March.
    7. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 483-499, June.
    8. Enrico Moretti, 2004. "Workers' Education, Spillovers, and Productivity: Evidence from Plant-Level Production Functions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 656-690, June.
    9. Andrew B. Bernard & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2011. "Multiproduct Firms and Trade Liberalization," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(3), pages 1271-1318.
    10. L. Rachel Ngai & Roberto M. Samaniego, 2006. "An R&D-Based Model of Multi-Sector Growth," CEP Discussion Papers dp0762, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    11. Ellison, Glenn & Glaeser, Edward L, 1997. "Geographic Concentration in U.S. Manufacturing Industries: A Dartboard Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(5), pages 889-927, October.
    12. Wheeler, Christopher H., 2006. "Productivity and the geographic concentration of industry: The role of plant scale," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 313-330, May.
    13. Glaeser, Edward L & Mare, David C, 2001. "Cities and Skills," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 316-342, April.
    14. Thomas J. Holmes & John J. Stevens, 2004. "Geographic concentration and establishment size: analysis in an alternative economic geography model," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(3), pages 227-250, June.
    15. Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Duranton, Gilles & Gobillon, Laurent, 2008. "Spatial wage disparities: Sorting matters!," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 723-742, March.
    16. Bresnahan, Timothy F & Reiss, Peter C, 1991. "Entry and Competition in Concentrated Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 977-1009, October.
    17. Paul Krugman, 1998. "Space: The Final Frontier," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 161-174, Spring.
    18. Thomas J. Holmes, 2005. "The Location of Sales Offices and the Attraction of Cities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(3), pages 551-581, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marie Drolet & Karen Mumford, 2012. "The Gender Pay Gap for Private-Sector Employees in Canada and Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 50(3), pages 529-553, September.
    2. Kichko, Sergey & Kokovin, Sergey & Zhelobodko, Evgeny, 2014. "Trade patterns and export pricing under non-CES preferences," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 129-142.
    3. Andries Brandsma & d'Artis Kancs & Philippe Monfort & Alexandra Rillaers, 2015. "RHOMOLO: A dynamic spatial general equilibrium model for assessing the impact of cohesion policy," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 94, pages 197-221, November.
    4. Asma Hyder, 2007. "Preference for Public Sector Jobs and Wait Unemployment : A Micro Data Analysis," Labor Economics Working Papers 22196, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    5. Clémence Berson, 2016. "Local labor markets and taste-based discrimination," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-21, December.
    6. Olga Ivanova & d'Artis Kancs & Dirk Stelder, 2009. "Modelling Inter-Regional Trade Flows: Data and Methodological Issues in Rhomolo," EERI Research Paper Series EERI RP 2009/31, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
    7. José Azar & Ioana Marinescu & Marshall I. Steinbaum, 2017. "Labor Market Concentration," NBER Working Papers 24147, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Reamonn Lydon, 1999. "Aspects of the Labour Market for New Graduates in Ireland - 1982-1997," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 30(3), pages 227-248.
    9. Torfs, Wouter & Zhao, Liqiu, 2015. "Everybody needs good neighbors? Labor mobility costs, cities and matching," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 39-54.

    More about this item


    Agglomeration; Labour Markets; Monopsony;

    JEL classification:

    • J42 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Monopsony; Segmented Labor Markets
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure


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