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Agglomeration and Firm Wage Inequality: Evidence from China

Chen, Anping and Dai, Tianshi and Partridge, Mark (2017): Agglomeration and Firm Wage Inequality: Evidence from China.

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Abstract

China is experiencing rapid urbanization with the steady emergence of large cities, leading to policy discussions of the role of large cities in its development. While the consensus is that agglomeration plays an important role in economic development and large cities can act as engines of economic growth, there is relatively little empirical knowledge of the effects of agglomeration on inequality. In this study, we apply panel data from a micro firm-level survey and from city-level data to investigate whether there is a causal relationship between agglomeration and establishment wage dispersion in China. Given potential endogeneity of city size, we employ an instrumental variable regression (IV) approach. We find strong evidence that agglomeration has significant effects on wage dispersion in the short- and long-run. The link between agglomeration and wage dispersion is heterogeneous across regions. The spatially varying results appear to be due to different stages of development. Our results are consistent with two-sided sorting models in that it appears that the most productive and least productive firms are moving from inland cities to the coast.

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