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Productivity and the density of human capital

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  • Jaison R. Abel
  • Ishita Dey
  • Todd M. Gabe

Abstract

We estimate a model of urban productivity in which the agglomeration effect of density is enhanced by a metropolitan area's stock of human capital. Estimation accounts for potential biases due to the endogeneity of density and industrial composition effects. Using new information on output per worker for U.S. metropolitan areas along with a measure of density that accounts for the spatial distribution of population, we find that a doubling of density increases productivity by 2 to 4 percent. Consistent with theories of learning and knowledge spillovers in cities, we demonstrate that the elasticity of average labor productivity with respect to density increases with human capital. Metropolitan areas with a human capital stock one standard deviation below the mean realize no productivity gain, while doubling density in metropolitan areas with a human capital stock one standard deviation above the mean yields productivity benefits that are about twice the average.

Suggested Citation

  • Jaison R. Abel & Ishita Dey & Todd M. Gabe, 2010. "Productivity and the density of human capital," Staff Reports 440, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:440
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Urban economics ; Labor productivity ; Labor market ; Population ; Demography;

    JEL classification:

    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R30 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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