"Location, Location, Location" - David Card, University of California, Berkeley

Industrial Relations Section Seminar: Special Edition
Mar 23, 2:15 pm3:20 pm
Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building, Rm 399 and Livestream
Event Description

In-person attendance: This event will take place in JRR 399 and all members of the campus community are welcome.

Livestream: For those not on campus, we will be livestreaming the seminar. Watch the livestream.


David Card is Class of 1950 Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and Director of the Center for Labor Economics and the Econometric Lab. He is the recipient of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Card earned his PhD at Princeton in 1983 and was a Professor of Economics at Princeton from 1987‐1997. We are very excited to welcome Professor Card back to campus and look forward to his presentation.


We use longitudinal data from the LEHD to study the causal effect of location on earnings. We specify a model for log earnings that includes worker effects and fixed effects for different commuting zones (CZs) fully interacted with industry, allowing us to capture potential impacts of local specialization. Building on recent work on firm‐specific wage setting, we show that a simple additive model provides a good approximation to observed changes in log earnings when people move across CZ’s and/or industries, though it takes a couple of quarters for migrants to fully realize the gains of a move. We also show that the earnings premiums for different CZ‐industry pairs are nearly separable in industry and CZ, with statistically significant but very small interaction effects. Consistent with recent research from France, Spain and Germany, we find that two thirds of the variation in observed wage premiums for working in different CZs is attributable to skill‐based sorting. Using separately estimated models for high and low education workers, we find that the locational premiums for the two groups are very similar. The degree of assortative matching across CZs is much larger for college‐educated workers, however, leading to a positive correlation between measured returns to skill and CZ average wages or CZ size that is almost entirely due to sorting on unobserved skills within the college workforce