31 juillet 2023
Ecrit par WID.world

Spatial wage inequality in North America and Western Europe 1975-2019

In recent decades, income inequality has been on the rise in most of the world’s leading economies. To what extent do spatial inequalities – such as the sharp divide between “superstar” global cities and “left-behind” post-industrial towns – contribute to this trend?

This paper presents a systematic attempt to create internationally comparable evidence on how different countries perform in terms of geographical wage inequalities. Based on cross-country comparable measures of spatial wage disparities between and within similarly-defined local labour market areas (LLMAs) for Canada, France, (West) Germany, the UK and the US since the 1970s, it assesses their contribution to national inequality. Key findings are:

  • At the end of the 2010s, spatial inequalities in average wages are similar in Canada, France, Germany and the UK, with the US showing the highest degree of spatial inequality.
  • Since 1970, spatial inequalities have almost doubled in all countries except France, where spatial inequalities have fallen back to 1970s levels.
  • Over the 40-year study period, the role of places in explaining national wage inequality has has remained relatively stable. This is because the increase in spatial inequalities has been accompanied by a proportional increase in within-place inequalities.


Variance of average wages across local labour markets areas



  • Luis Bauluz, CUNEF Universidad ; World Inequality Lab
  • Paweł Bukowski, University College London ; Polish Academy of Sciences
  • Mark Fransham, University of Oxford
  • Annie Lee, McGill University
  • Margarita López Forero, Université Paris-Saclay, Université Evry
  • Filip Novokmet, University of Bonn ; World Inequality Lab
  • Sébastien Breau, McGill University
  • Neil Lee, London School of Economics
  • Clément Malgouyres, Paris School of Economics
  • Moritz Schularick, Kiel Institute ; Sciences Po
  • Gregory Verdugo, Université Paris-Saclay ; Université Evry



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