NBER Publications by David Lagakos

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Working Papers and Chapters

October 2014Competitive Pressure and the Decline of the Rust Belt: A Macroeconomic Analysis
with Simeon Alder, Lee Ohanian: w20538
No region of the United States fared worse over the postwar period than the "Rust Belt," the heavy manufacturing region bordering the Great Lakes. This paper hypothesizes that the Rust Belt declined in large part due to a lack of competitive pressure in its labor and output markets. We formalize this thesis in a two-region dynamic general equilibrium model, in which productivity growth and regional employment shares are determined by the extent of competition. Quantitatively, the model accounts for much of the large secular decline in the Rust Belt's employment share before the 1980s, and the relative stabilization of the Rust Belt since then, as competitive pressure increased.
November 2013The Agricultural Productivity Gap
with Douglas Gollin, Michael E. Waugh: w19628
According to national accounts data, value added per worker is much higher in the non-agricultural sector than in agriculture in the typical country, and particularly so in developing countries. Taken at face value, this "agricultural productivity gap" suggests that labor is greatly misallocated across sectors. In this paper, we draw on new micro evidence to ask to what extent the gap is still present when better measures of sector labor inputs and value added are taken into consideration. We find that even after considering sector differences in hours worked and human capital per worker, as well as alternative measures of sector output constructed from household survey data, a puzzlingly large gap remains.

Published: Douglas Gollin & David Lagakos & Michael E. Waugh, 2014. "The Agricultural Productivity Gap," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(2), pages 939-993. citation courtesy of

December 2012Experience Matters: Human Capital and Development Accounting
with Benjamin Moll, Tommaso Porzio, Nancy Qian, Todd Schoellman: w18602
We use international household-survey data to document that experience-wage profiles are flatter in poorer countries than in richer countries. We find a quantitatively similar pattern when we estimate returns to foreign experience by country of origin among U.S. immigrants. The most likely explanation for both findings is that workers accumulate less human capital from experience in poorer countries. Taking this into consideration in development accounting substantially increases the role of human capital in accounting for cross-country income differences.

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