Migration and Regional Disparities: the Role of Skill Biased Flows
The persistence of disparities is one of the most striking features of regional development. We argue that movements of labour force, instead of being an always equilibrating mechanism, can also make persistent or even reinforce such inequalities. The most advanced regions are in fact generally more attractive, in terms of opportunities, especially to more qualified workers, who, in turn, are an essential ingredient of regional development and competitiveness because of the human capital they bear. We set up a two-regional framework, with a continuum of different skill- type individuals. Each agent’s utility function depends on the wage she earns through her skills, leaving the process of human capital formation out of this paper. Within this framework, we identify and model two complementary mechanisms for skill biased migration flows to take place. The first one resides in the way wages are set. If, in fact, the most skilled workers are not paid their productivity because of wage compression, they will have an incentive to move towards regions with a more dispersed wage scheme. The second mechanism dwells in the existence of some regional specific immobile assets, which make workers di®erently productive in different regions; this happens to a larger extent for those endowed with highest skills, which will therefore be more likely to overcome the mobility costs. Hence a Kaldor-type cumulative process bearing persistent regional disparities is set up.
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