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Cities and Skills

  • Edward L. Glaeser
  • David C. Mare

This paper examines the productivity (and wage) gains from locating in dense, urban environments. We distinguish between three potential explanations of why firms are willing to pay urban workers more: (1) the urban wage premium is spurious and is the result of omitted ability measures, (2) the urban wage premium works because cities enhance productivity and (3) the urban wage premium is the result of faster skill accumulation in cities. Using a combination of standard regressions, individual fixed effects estimation (using migrants) and instrumental variables methods, we find that the urban wage premium does not represent omitted ability bias and it is only in part a level effect to productivity. The bulk of the urban wage premium accrues over time as a result of greater skill accumulation in cities.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w4728.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4728.

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Date of creation: May 1994
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Publication status: published as Glaeser, Edward L. and David C. Mare. "Cities And Skills," Journal of Labor Economics, 2001, v19(2,Apr), 316-342.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4728
Note: EFG LS
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  1. Topel, Robert H, 1991. "Specific Capital, Mobility, and Wages: Wages Rise with Job Seniority," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 145-76, February.
  2. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1994. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," NBER Chapters, in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 299-322 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Paul Krugman, 1990. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," NBER Working Papers 3275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Rauch James E., 1993. "Productivity Gains from Geographic Concentration of Human Capital: Evidence from the Cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 380-400, November.
  5. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  6. Antonio Ciccone & Robert E. Hall, 1995. "Productivity and the density of economic activity," Economics Working Papers 120, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  7. Raul Livas Elizondo & Paul Krugman, 1992. "Trade Policy and the Third World Metropolis," NBER Working Papers 4238, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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