Cities, Lights, and Skills in Developing Economies

48 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2020

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: February 2020

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: C8, O1, O18, R1

Suggested Citation

Dingel, Jonathan I. and Miscio, Antonio and Davis, Donald R., Cities, Lights, and Skills in Developing Economies (February 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP14434, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3547367

Jonathan I. Dingel

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

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United Kingdom

Antonio Miscio

Columbia University ( email )

Boston Consulting Group ( email )

10 Hudson Yards
New York
New York, NY NY 10001
United States

Donald R. Davis (Contact Author)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Columbia University ( email )

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New York, NY 10027
United States

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