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Understanding the city size wage gap

Author

Listed:
  • Nathaniel Baum-Snow

    () (Brown University)

  • Ronni Pavan

    () (University of Rochester)

Abstract

In 2000, wages of full time full year workers were more than 30 percent higher in metropolitan areas of over 1.5 million people than rural areas. The monotonic relationship between wages and city size is robust to controls for age, schooling and labor market experience. In this paper, we decompose the city size wage gap into various components. We propose an on-the-job search model that incorporates latent ability, search frictions, firm-worker match quality, human capital accumulation and endogenous migration between large, medium and small cities. Counterfactual simulations of the model indicate that variation in returns to experience and differences in wage intercepts across location type are the most important mechanisms contributing to the overall city size wage premium. Steeper returns to experience in larger cities is more important for college graduates while differences in wage intercepts is more important for high school graduates. Sorting on unobserved ability within education group and differences in labor market search frictions and distributions of firm-worker match quality contribute little or slightly negatively to observed city size wage premia in both samples.

Suggested Citation

  • Nathaniel Baum-Snow & Ronni Pavan, 2010. "Understanding the city size wage gap," Working Papers 2010/27, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  • Handle: RePEc:ieb:wpaper:2010/9/doc2010-27
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt & Stephen J. Redding & Daniel M. Sturm & Nikolaus Wolf, 2015. "The Economics of Density: Evidence From the Berlin Wall," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 83, pages 2127-2189, November.
    2. Pierre-Philippe Combes & Gilles Duranton & Laurent Gobillon, 2011. "The identification of agglomeration economies," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(2), pages 253-266, March.
    3. Alessia Matano & Paolo Naticchioni, 2009. "Wage distribution and the spatial sorting of workers and firms," Working Papers - Dipartimento di Economia 8-DEISFOL, Dipartimento di Economia, Sapienza University of Rome, revised 2009.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Agglomeration; wage growth; urban wage premium;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • R12 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Size and Spatial Distributions of Regional Economic Activity; Interregional Trade (economic geography)
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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