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Productivity Gains From Geographic Concentration of human Capital: Evidence From the Cities

  • James E. Rauch

Based on recent theoretical developments I argue that the average level of human capital is a local public good. Cities with higher average levels of human capital should therefore have higher wages and higher land rents. After conditioning on the characteristics of individual workers and dwellings, this prediction is supported by data for Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas (SMSAs) in the United States, where the SMSA average levels of formal education and work experience are used as proxies for the average level of human capital. I evaluate the alternative explanations of omitted SMSA variables and self-selection. I conclude by computing an estimate of the effect of an additional year of average education on total factor productivity.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3905.

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Date of creation: Nov 1991
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Publication status: published as Journal of Urban Economics, vol. 34, pp. 380-400, (November 1993)
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3905
Note: EFG
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  2. Blomquist, Glenn C & Berger, Mark C & Hoehn, John P, 1988. "New Estimates of Quality of Life in Urban Areas," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 89-107, March.
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  6. Beeson, Patricia E & Eberts, Randall W, 1989. "Identifying Productivity and Amenity Effects in Interurban Wage Differentials," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(3), pages 443-52, August.
  7. Richard B. Peiser & Lawrence B. Smith, 1985. "Homeownership Returns, Tenure Choice and Inflation," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 13(4), pages 343-360.
  8. Roback, Jennifer, 1982. "Wages, Rents, and the Quality of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1257-78, December.
  9. Schultz, T. Paul, 1988. "Education investments and returns," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 13, pages 543-630 Elsevier.
  10. Jovanovic, Boyan & Rob, Rafael, 1989. "The Growth and Diffusion of Knowledge," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(4), pages 569-82, October.
  11. Balassa, Bela, 1979. "The Changing Pattern of Comparative Advantage in Manufactured Goods," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 61(2), pages 259-66, May.
  12. Borjas, George J. & Bronars, Stephen G. & Trejo, Stephen J., 1992. "Self-selection and internal migration in the United States," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 159-185, September.
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