Cities, Lights, and Skills in Developing Economies
In developed economies, agglomeration is skill-biased: larger cities are skill-abundant and exhibit higher skilled wage premia. This paper characterizes the spatial distributions of skills in Brazil, China, and India. To facilitate comparisons with developed-economy findings, we construct metropolitan areas for each of these economies by aggregating finer geographic units on the basis of contiguous areas of light in nighttime satellite images. Our results validate this procedure. These lights-based metropolitan areas mirror commuting-based definitions in the United States and Brazil. In China and India, which lack commuting-based definitions, lights-based metropolitan populations follow a power law, while administrative units do not. Examining variation in relative quantities and prices of skill across these metropolitan areas, we conclude that agglomeration is also skill-biased in Brazil, China, and India.
We are grateful to Stuart Rosenthal and two anonymous referees for very valuable suggestions. We thank Luis Costa, Kevin Dano, Shirley Yarin, Yue Yuan, and especially Dylan Clarke for excellent research assistance. We thank Andrei Potlogea for a helpful discussion and Juan Pablo Chauvin for sharing suggestions and data. Dingel thanks the Kathryn and Grant Swick Faculty Research Fund and the James S. Kemper Foundation Faculty Research Fund at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business for supporting this work. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Jonathan I. Dingel & Antonio Miscio & Donald R. Davis, 2019. "Cities, Lights, and Skills in Developing Economies," Journal of Urban Economics, .