Spatial polarisation

Fabio Cerina, Elisa Dienesch, Alessio Moro, Michelle Rendall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


We document the emergence of spatial polarisation in the United States during the 1980-2008 period. This phenomenon is characterised by stronger employment polarisation in larger cities, both at the occupational and the worker levels. We quantitatively evaluate the role of technology in generating these patterns by constructing and calibrating a spatial equilibrium model. We find that faster skill-biased technological change in larger cities can account for a substantial fraction of spatial polarisation in the United States. Counterfactual exercises suggest that the differential increase in the share of low-skilled workers across city size is due mainly to the large demand by high-skilled workers for low-skilled services and, to a smaller extent, to the higher complementarity between low-and high-skilled workers in production relative to middle-skilled workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-69
Number of pages40
JournalThe Economic Journal
Issue number649
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

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