Cities, Lights, and Skills in Developing Economies

46 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2019

See all articles by Jonathan I. Dingel

Jonathan I. Dingel

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Antonio Miscio

Columbia University; Boston Consulting Group

Donald R. Davis

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Columbia University

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 24, 2019

Abstract

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.

Keywords: cities, metropolitan areas, satellite images, skill-biased agglomeration, Zipf’s Law

JEL Classification: R1, O1, O18, C8

Suggested Citation

Dingel, Jonathan I. and Miscio, Antonio and Davis, Donald R., Cities, Lights, and Skills in Developing Economies (March 24, 2019). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2019-50 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3361220 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3361220

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Antonio Miscio

Columbia University ( email )

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Donald R. Davis

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Columbia University ( email )

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