Discussion paper

DP9352 Urbanisation and Migration Externalities in China

We evaluate the role that cities play on individual productivity in China. First, we show that location explains a large share of nominal wage disparities. Second, even after controlling for individual and firms characteristics and instrumenting city characteristics, the estimated elasticity of wage with respect to employment density is about three times larger than in Western countries. Land area and industrial specialisation also play a significant role whereas the access to external markets does not. Therefore, large agglomeration economies prevail in China and they are more localised than in Western countries. Third, we find evidence of a large positive impact of the local share of migrants on local workers' wages. Overall, these results strongly support the productivity gains that can be expected from further migration and urbanisation in China.


Combes, P, S Démurger and S Li (2013), ‘DP9352 Urbanisation and Migration Externalities in China‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 9352. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp9352