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Essays in urban and labor economics van der List, Catherine


The first chapter studies the distribution of economic activity across space and the effects of place-based policies. I develop a model of the location choice of new establishments incorporating taxes, monopsonistic labor markets, and spillovers. Estimates using administrative data from Germany indicate that establishments generally have a preference for lower taxes, as well a preference for lower worker outside options which enable establishments to pay lower wages. The degree to which various types of productivity spillovers matter in the location decision of establishments varies greatly between industrial sectors. I also quantify the effects of a counterfactual place-based policy and find that commuting zones display highly heterogeneous wage and economic activity responses to the same policy due to differing degrees of labor market power across space. In the second chapter, we study the extent to which persistent elevation in the involuntary part-time employment rate following the Great Recession indicated labor market slack in the United States. The fraction of the US workforce identified as involuntary part-time workers rose to new highs during the US Great Recession and came down only slowly in its aftermath. We assess the determinants of involuntary part-time work using an empirical framework that accounts for business cycle effects and persistent structural features of the labor market. We conduct regression analyses using state level panel data for the years 2003–16. The results indicate that structural factors, notably shifts in the industry composition of employment, have held the incidence of involuntary part-time work slightly more than 1 percentage point above its prerecession level. In the final chapter, I use the 1996, 2001, 2004, and 2008 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation to investigate the influence earner status plays on the response to a spouse's job separation. I find that conditional on gender, there are still large remaining differences in behavior based on earner status. Conditional on earner status, there are few remaining gender differences on the intensive margin, but clear differences on the extensive margin. As the equivalence between gender and earner status continues to erode, examining earner status will become even more important.

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