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Monopsony in Spatial Equilibrium

No. 1912

Matthew E. Kahn and Joseph Tracy

Abstract: An emerging labor economics literature studies the consequences of firms exercising market power in local labor markets. These monopsony models have implications for trends in earnings inequality. The extent of this market power is likely to vary across local labor markets. In choosing what market to live and work in, workers trade off wages, rents and local amenities. Building on the Rosen/Roback spatial equilibrium model, we investigate how the existence of local monopsony power affects the cross-sectional spatial distribution of wages and rents across cities. We find an employment-weighted elasticity of land prices to concentration of –0.034—similar to Rinz (2018)’s reported elasticity of compensation to concentration. This finding has implications for who bears the economic incidence of labor market power. We present two extensions of the model focusing on the role of migration costs and worker skill heterogeneity.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.24149/wp1912

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