Between 1940 and 1980 the wage gap between poorer U.S. cities and richer ones was shrinking at an annual rate of roughly 1.4%. After 1980, however, there was no further regional conver- gence overall. This paper quantifies the contributions of skill-biased technical change (SBTC) and agglomeration economies to the end of cross-city wage convergence within the U.S. between 1980 and 2010. I develop and estimate a dynamic spatial equilibrium model that looks at the causes of regional convergence and divergence. The model choice is motivated by novel empir- ical regularities regarding the evolution of the skill premium and migration patterns over time and across space. The model successfully matches the quantitative features of the U.S. regional wage convergence. Moreover, the model also reproduces changes in the skill ratio across U.S. cities, as well as, migration patterns after 1980. Finally, the counterfactual analysis suggests that SBTC explains much of change in cross-city wage differentials.

Source: Skilled-Biased Technical Change and Regional Convergence