School of Business and Management

News and Events menu

School Research Seminar Series

24 October 2012

Time: 1:00 - 2:00pm
Venue: Francis Bancroft Building, Room FB4.04/08 (4th Floor)

Time: 1.00 - 2.00pm

Dr Sabine D'Costa, Lecturer in Economics, School of Business and Management, Queen Mary, University of London

Sabine D’Costa’s research interests are in applied international trade, economic geography, urban and regional economics. She has worked on the effects of trade liberalisation, using large firm-level datasets. More recently, she has analysed the effect of labour market size on the wage growth of workers in Britain. She is also investigating how nation-wide policies affect the productivity growth of regions in the OECD. Sabine is affiliated to the Spatial Economics Research Centre (SERC) at the London School of Economics. Prior to joining SBM she was a post-doctoral researcher at the LSE, where she has also delivered lectures in economics.

Seminar title
Does labour market size have an effect on the wage growth of workers in Great Britain?

The urban economics literature provides ample evidence of an urban wage premium: wages are higher in larger urban areas. This paper addresses three central issues of the urban wage premium about which the field has not yet reached a consensus. First, the extent to which sorting of high ability individuals into urban areas explains the urban wage premium. Second, which of the major agglomeration economies might generate this premium. Third, whether workers receive this wage premium immediately, or through faster wage growth over time.

In order to consider these issues we use worker-level data from a large panel of British workers for the period 1998 to 2009. We first document the existence of an urban wage premium and more specifically a city size premium for Britain which persists when we control for both observed and unobserved time-invariant characteristics of workers. We also provide evidence of a city size premium on wage growth, but show that this is driven purely by the increase in wage that occurs in the first year that a worker moves to a larger location. When we exclude move years, we find no evidence of an urban wage growth premium. If as Glaeser and Maré (2001) argue, an urban wage growth premium is evidence of faster learning in cities then either this mechanism is not at work for Britain or faster learning is not reflected in wage growth. Wheeler (2006) suggests that the role of learning and matching in the urban wage growth premium might be particularly important for younger workers. Again, in the British context, we find little evidence to support this. We next examine whether living in an urban area affects the extent to which wage growth occurs on the job or as a result of changing jobs. Once we control for unobservable characteristics of workers we find no evidence that working in a larger urban area has any effect on either of these two components of wage growth. This result is also in contrast with the conclusions made in the US literature in favour of the role of learning and matching in cities.

Research themes
Globalisation and Networks and Knowledge

Additional information
The seminar will run from 1.00 to 2:00pm (suggested: 50 minute talk and 10 minute Q&A)

Please confirm your attendance by emailing

Return to top