The Aggregate and Distributional Effects of Spatial Frictions

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We develop a general equilibrium model of frictional labor reallocation across firms and regions and use it to quantify the aggregate and distributional effects of spatial frictions that hinder worker mobility across regions in Germany. The model leverages matched employer-employee data to unpack spatial frictions into different types while isolating them from labor market frictions that operate also within region. The estimated model shows sizable spatial frictions between East and West Germany, especially due to the limited ability of workers to obtain job offers from more distant regions. Despite the large real wage gap between East and West of Germany, removing the spatial frictions leads, in equilibrium, to only a small increase in aggregate productivity and it mostly affects the within-region allocation of labor to firms rather than the between-region allocation. However, spatial frictions have large distributional consequences, as their removal drastically reduces the gap in lifetime earnings between East and West Germans.


Type of resource text
Date created August 16, 2021


Author Heise, Sebastian
Author Porzio, Tommaso
Organizer of meeting Auclert, Adrien
Organizer of meeting Mitman, Kurt
Organizer of meeting Tonetti, Christopher
Organizer of meeting Wong, Arlene


Subject economics
Genre Text
Genre Working paper
Genre Grey literature

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Heise, S. and Porzio, T. (2022). The Aggregate and Distributional Effects of Spatial Frictions. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at


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