Research / BFI Working PaperFeb 10, 2019

Spatial Linkages, Global Shocks, and Local Labor Markets: Theory and Evidence

Rodrigo Adão, Costas Arkolakis, Federico Esposito

How do shocks to economic fundamentals in the world economy affect local labor markets? In a framework with a flexible structure of spatial linkages, we characterize the model-consistent shock exposure of a local market as the exogenous shift in its production revenues and consumption costs. In general equilibrium, labor outcomes in any market respond directly to the market’s own shock exposure, and indirectly to other markets shocks exposures. We show how spatial linkages control the size and the heterogeneity of these indirect effects. We then develop a new estimation methodology — the Model-implied Optimal IV (MOIV) — that exploits quasi-experimental variation in economic shocks to estimate spatial linkages and evaluate their counterfactual implications. Applying our methodology to US Commuting Zones, we find that difference-in-difference designs based on model-consistent measures of local shock exposure approximate well the differential effect of international trade shocks across CZs, but miss around half of the aggregate effect, partly due to the offsetting action of indirect effects.

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