Research

Labor market dynamism, measured by flows of workers between employers, declined substantially in the US and employment polarized into low and high-skill jobs. This paper shows the two trends are linked. I provide a framework to study employment and worker flows in presence of two-sided heterogeneity. Within an estimated version of the framework I find that routine-biased technological change accounts for about one-third of the decline in job-to-job mobility for workers without a college degree, while the remaining decline in mobility is mainly driven by a decline in the dispersion of match-specific productivity and its innovation rate.

Large cities are more productive and generate more output per person. Using data from the UK on energy demand and waste generation, we show that they are also more energy-efficient. Large cities are therefore greener than small towns. The amount of energy demanded and waste generated per person is decreasing in total output produced, that is, energy demand and waste generation scale sublinearly with output. Our research provides the first direct evidence of green urbanization by calculating the rate at which per capita electricity use and waste decrease with city population. The energy demand elasticity with respect to city output is 83%: as the total output of a city increases by one percent, energy demand increases less than one percent, and the Urban Energy Premium is therefore 17%. The energy premium by source of energy demand is from households (13%), transport (20%), and industry (16%). Similarly, we find that the elasticity of waste generation with respect to city output is 90%. For one percent increase in total city output, there is a less than one percent increase in waste, with an Urban Waste Premium of 10%. Because large cities are energy-efficient ways of generating output, energy efficiency can be improved by encouraging urbanization and thus green living. We perform a counterfactual analysis in a spatial equilibrium model that makes income taxes contingent on city population, which attracts more people to big cities. We find that this pro-urbanization counterfactual not only increases economic output but also lowers energy consumption and waste production in the aggregate.

We show that differential IT investment across cities has been a key driver of job and wage polarization since the 1980s. Using a novel data set, we establish two stylized facts: IT investment is highest in firms in large and expensive cities, and the decline in routine cognitive occupations is most prevalent in large and expensive cities. To explain these facts, we propose a model mechanism where the substitution of routine workers by IT leads to higher IT adoption in large cities due to a higher cost of living and higher wages. We estimate the spatial equilibrium model to trace out the effects of IT on the labor market between 1990 and 2015. We find that the fall in IT prices explains 50 percent of the rising wage gap between routine and non-routine cognitive jobs. The decline in IT prices also accounts for 28 percent of the shift in employment away from routine cognitive towards non-routine cognitive jobs. Moreover, our estimates show that the impact of IT is uneven across space. Expensive locations have seen a stronger displacement of routine cognitive jobs and a larger widening of the wage gap between routine and non-routine cognitive jobs.

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