Increasing Returns and Spatial Unemployment Disparities

32 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2004

See all articles by Jens Suedekum

Jens Suedekum

Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Date Written: 2004

Abstract

Regional unemployment rates in the European Union (EU-15) reveal a core-periphery structure. Large core regions in the middle of the continent have low unemployment rates, whereas excessive mass unemployment is predominantly found in the peripheral regions at the outside borders of EU-15. This geographical pattern of unemployment rates follows the pattern of GDP per capita. That is, the regions with low (high) unemployment rates on average have comparatively high (low) real income levels. In this paper we try to understand this stylised fact with the help of a theoretical model that builds on two strings in the literature: the recent trade and location theories (like the 'new economic geography') and the 'wage curve'. Standard models of the new location theories deal with regional disparities in production and income, but they usually assume full employment and are thus ill-equipped to study spatial unemployment disparities. The wage curve-approach, which explicitly shows how disparities in real wages and unemployment rates are interrelated, can not endogenously explain the origin of these asymmetries. In this paper, we combine these previously unrelated strings and develop a unified theoretical framework. We show that a core-periphery in real wages is associated and magnified by regional unemployment disparities. This wage curve relation is stable over time with an increasing returns technology. That is, the wage curve does not vanish as workers move from the periphery to the core, but it is rather reinforced by migration. These theoretical predictions of our model are in line with the empirical evidence.

Keywords: Regional unemployment, economic geography, increasing returns

JEL Classification: F4, J6, R1

Suggested Citation

Südekum, Jens, Increasing Returns and Spatial Unemployment Disparities (2004). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=492102 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.492102

Jens Südekum (Contact Author)

Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE) ( email )

Universitaetsstr. 1
Duesseldorf, NRW 40225
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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