DP4058 Efficiency Wages and Unemployment in Cities: The Case of High Relocation Costs

Author(s): Yves Zenou
Publication Date: September 2003
Keyword(s): location-dependent wages, relocation costs, urban labour markets
JEL(s): J41, R14
Programme Areas: Labour Economics
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=4058

We develop an urban model in which all jobs are located in the Central Business District (CBD) and workers, who have high relocation costs, optimally choose their residence between the CBD and the city-fringe. We consider two cases. In the first one, firms can pay different wages according to residential location (this is referred to as the unconstrained equilibrium) while in the second case, there is a legal constraint that prevents firms to wage-discriminate on the basis of residential location (this is referred to as the constrained equilibrium). We show that in the unconstrained equilibrium, the efficiency wage in fact increases with distance to jobs. We also demonstrate that both workers and firms are better off in the unconstrained equilibrium. Finally, we show that a policy that reduces the unemployment benefit decreases unemployment but, interestingly, has an ambiguous effect on utilities in both equilibria. Moreover, this policy has no impact on the land rent in the unconstrained equilibrium but increases the competition in the land market in the constrained equilibrium.