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Optimal Spatial Policies, Geography and Sorting

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  • Pablo Fajgelbaum
  • Cecile Gaubert

Abstract

We study optimal spatial policies in a quantitative trade and geography framework with spillovers and spatial sorting of heterogeneous workers. We characterize the spatial transfers that must hold in efficient allocations, as well as labor subsidies that can implement them. There exists scope for welfare-enhancing spatial policies even when spillovers are common across locations. Using data on U.S. cities and existing estimates of the spillover elasticities, we find that the U.S. economy would benefit from a reallocation of workers to currently low-wage cities. The optimal allocation features a greater share of high skill workers in smaller cities relative to the observed allocation. Inefficient sorting may lead to substantial welfare costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Pablo Fajgelbaum & Cecile Gaubert, 2018. "Optimal Spatial Policies, Geography and Sorting," NBER Working Papers 24632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24632
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    2. Rossi-Hansberg, Esteban & Sarte, Pierre-Daniel & Schwartzman, Felipe, 2019. "Cognitive Hubs and Spatial Redistribution," CEPR Discussion Papers 14000, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Farrokhi, Farid & Jinkins, David, 2019. "Wage inequality and the location of cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 76-92.
    4. Treb Allen & Costas Arkolakis, 2022. "The Welfare Effects of Transportation Infrastructure Improvements [General Equilibrium Effects in Space: Theory and Measurement]," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 89(6), pages 2911-2957.
    5. Victor Couture & Cecile Gaubert & Jessie Handbury & Erik Hurst, 2019. "Income Growth and the Distributional Effects of Urban Spatial Sorting," NBER Working Papers 26142, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Coen-Pirani, Daniele & Sieg, Holger, 2019. "The impact of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act on the spatial distribution of high productivity households and economic welfare," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 44-71.
    7. Nicolas Jannin & Aurélie Sotura, 2019. "This Town Ain't Big Enough? Quantifying Local Public Goods Spillovers," Working Papers halshs-02160251, HAL.
    8. Farid Farrokhi, 2019. "Skill, Agglomeration, and Inequality in the Spatial Economy," 2019 Meeting Papers 357, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Felipe Schwartzman, 2017. "Inequality Across and Within US Cities around the Turn of the Twenty-First Century," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Q1-Q4, pages 1-35.
    10. Anthony Howell, 2020. "Picking 'winners' in space: Impact of spatial targeting on firm performance in China," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(5), pages 1025-1046, November.
    11. Tilman Graff, 2018. "Spatial Inefficiencies in Africa’s Trade Network," CSAE Working Paper Series 2018-17, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    12. Nicolas Jannin & Aurelie Sotura, 2020. "This Town Ain't Big Enough? Quantifying Public Good Spillovers," Working papers 796, Banque de France.
    13. Nicolas Jannin & Aurélie Sotura, 2019. "This Town Ain't Big Enough? Quantifying Local Public Goods Spillovers," PSE Working Papers halshs-02160251, HAL.

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    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • R13 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General Equilibrium and Welfare Economic Analysis of Regional Economies

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