The Sources of Urban Development: Wages, Housing, and Amenity Gaps Across American Cities
Journal of Regional Science
US : John Wiley & Sons
85 - 108 p.
This paper asks whether worker utility levels—composed of wages, rents, and amenities—are being equalized among American cities. Using microdata on U.S. urban workers in 1980 and 2000, little evidence of equalization is found. Comparable workers earn higher real wages in large cities, where amenities are also concentrated. Moreover, population growth between 1980 and 2000 has not been significantly different in low- and high-utility cities, suggesting that other forces are at work shaping the sorting processes that match workers and firms. We outline an alternative view of the drivers of change in the American urban system, and urban development more generally, by applying theory from economic geography.