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Jel Classification:J61 

Report
Spatial Wage Gaps and Frictional Labor Markets

We develop a job-ladder model with labor reallocation across firms and space, which we design to leverage matched employer-employee data to study differences in wages and labor productivity across regions. We apply our framework to data from Germany: twenty-five years after the reunification, real wages in the East are still 26 percent lower than those in the West. We find that 60 percent of the wage gap is due to labor being paid a higher wage per efficiency unit in West Germany, and quantify three distinct barriers that prevent East Germans from migrating west to obtain a higher wage: ...
Staff Reports , Paper 898

Report
Can low-wage workers find better jobs?

There is growing concern over rising economic inequality, the decline of the middle class, and a polarization of the U.S. workforce. This study examines the extent to which low-wage workers in the United States transition to better jobs, and explores the factors associated with such a move up the job ladder. Using data covering the expansion following the Great Recession (2011-17) and focusing on short-term labor market transitions, we find that around 70 percent of low-wage workers stayed in the same job, 11 percent exited the labor force, 7 percent became unemployed, and 6 percent switched ...
Staff Reports , Paper 846

Report
Population aging, migration spillovers, and the decline in interstate migration

We investigate the role of the aging of the U.S. population in the decline in interstate migration since the mid-1980s. Using an instrumental variables strategy on cross-state data, we show that an aging workforce causes the migration rates of all age groups in a state to drop. This demonstrates that the effect of aging on migration includes indirect effects that go beyond the direct effect of raising the workforce share of groups with lower migration rates. We then develop an island model in which firms can hire workers either locally or from other locations, and show that an aging ...
Staff Reports , Paper 699

Report
Geographical reallocation and unemployment during the Great Recession: the role of the housing bust

This paper quantitatively evaluates the hypothesis that the housing bust in 2007 decreased geographical reallocation and increased the dispersion and level of unemployment during the Great Recession. We construct an equilibrium model of multiple locations with frictional housing and labor markets. When house prices fall, the amount of home equity declines, making it harder for homeowners to afford the down payment on a new house after moving. Consequently, the decline in house prices reduces migration and causes unemployment to rise differently in different locations. The model accounts for ...
Staff Reports , Paper 605

Working Paper
The Return to Big City Experience: Evidence from Danish Refugees

We offer causal evidence of higher returns to experience in big cities. Exploiting a natural experiment that settled political refugees across labor markets in Denmark between 1986 and 1998, we find that while refugees initially earn similar wages across locations, those placed in Copenhagen exhibit 35% faster wage growth with each additional year of experience. This gap is driven primarily by differential sorting towards high-wage establishments, occupations, and industries. An estimated spatial model of earnings dynamics attributes an important role to unobserved worker ability: more able ...
Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers , Paper 24

Working Paper
Location as an Asset

The location of individuals determines their job opportunities, living amenities, and housing costs. We argue that it is useful to conceptualize the location choice of individuals as a decision to invest in a ?location asset?. This asset has a cost equal to the location?s rent, and a payoff through better job opportunities and, potentially, more human capital for the individual and her children. As with any asset, savers in the location asset transfer resources into the future by going to expensive locations with good future opportunities. In contrast, borrowers transfer resources to the ...
Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers , Paper 12

Working Paper
Internal Immigrant Mobility in the Early 20th Century: Experimental Evidence from Galveston Immigrants

Between 1907 and 1914, the ?Galveston Movement,? a philanthropic effort spearheaded by Jacob Schiff, fostered the immigration of approximately 10,000 Russian Jews through the Port of Galveston, Texas. Upon arrival, households were given train tickets to pre-selected locations west of the Mississippi River where a job awaited. Despite the program?s stated purpose to locate new Russian Jewish immigrants to the Western part of the U.S., we find that almost 90 percent of the prime age male participants ultimately moved east of the Mississippi, typically to large Northeastern and Midwestern ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2018-4

Working Paper
The Decline in Intergenerational Mobility After 1980

We demonstrate that intergenerational mobility declined sharply for cohorts born between 1957 and 1964 compared to those born between 1942 and 1953. The former entered the labor market largely after the large rise in inequality that occurred around 1980 while the latter entered the labor market before this inflection point. We show that the rank-rank slope rose from 0.27 to 0.4 and the IGE rose from 0.35 to 0.51. The share of children whose income exceeds that of their parents fell by about 3 percentage points. These findings suggest that relative mobility fell by substantially more than ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2017-5

Working Paper
Local Ties in Spatial Equilibrium

If someone lives in an economically depressed place, they were probably born there. The presence of people with local ties - a preference to live in their birthplace - leads to smaller migration responses. Smaller migration responses to wage declines lead to lower real incomes and make real incomes more sensitive to subsequent demand shocks, a form of hysteresis. Local ties can persist for generations. Place-based policies, like tax subsidies, targeting depressed places cause smaller distortions since few people want to move to depressed places. Place-based policies targeting productive ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2019-080

Working Paper
Parental Proximity and Earnings After Job Displacements

The earnings of young adults who live in the same neighborhoods as their parents completely recover after a job displacement, unlike the earnings of young adults who live farther away, which permanently decline. Nearby workers appear to benefit from help with childcare since grandmothers are less likely to be employed after their child's job displacement and since the earnings benefits are concentrated among young adults who have children. The result also suggests that parental employment networks improve earnings. Differences in job search durations, transfers of housing services, and ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2019-062

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