NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Cities, Skills, and Regional Change

Edward L. Glaeser, Giacomo A.M. Ponzetto, Kristina Tobio

NBER Working Paper No. 16934
Issued in April 2011
NBER Program(s):   EFG

One approach to urban areas emphasizes the existence of certain immutable relationships, such as Zipf’s or Gibrat’s Law. An alternative view is that urban change reflects individual responses to changing tastes or technologies. This paper examines almost 200 years of regional change in the U.S. and finds that few, if any, growth relationships remain constant, including Gibrat’s Law. Education does a reasonable job of explaining urban resilience in recent decades, but does not seem to predict county growth a century ago. After reviewing this evidence, we present and estimate a simple model of regional change, where education increases the level of entrepreneurship. Human capital spillovers occur at the city level because skilled workers produce more product varieties and thereby increase labor demand. We find that skills are associated with growth in productivity or entrepreneurship, not with growth in quality of life, at least outside of the West. We also find that skills seem to have depressed housing supply growth in the West, but not in other regions, which supports the view that educated residents in that region have fought for tougher land-use controls. We also present evidence that skills have had a disproportionately large impact on unemployment during the current recession.

download in pdf format
   (652 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (652 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16934

Published: Edward L. Glaeser & Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto & Kristina Tobio, 2014. "Cities, Skills and Regional Change," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(1), pages 7-43, January.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Glaeser and Gottlieb w14806 The Wealth of Cities: Agglomeration Economies and Spatial Equilibrium in the United States
Glaeser and Resseger w15103 The Complementarity between Cities and Skills
Glaeser, Rosenthal, and Strange w15536 Urban Economics and Entrepreneurship
Glaeser w13696 The Economics Approach to Cities
Glaeser, Gottlieb, and Tobio w17914 Housing Booms and City Centers
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us