Geographic Mobility, Race, and Wage Discrimination

UCSD Economics Discussion Paper 97-05

Posted: 5 Mar 1997

See all articles by Steven P. Raphael

Steven P. Raphael

University of California, Berkeley

David A. Riker

University of California at San Diego

Date Written: January 1997


This paper analyzes the relationship between geographic mobility and earnings. We present an equilibrium search model that yields differences between the reservation wages of mobile and immobile workers. The expected wages of mobile workers exceed those of immobile workers due to partial sorting across high- and low-paying firms. An extension to visibly distinct groups with different proportions immobile yields statistical discrimination against immobile group members. Using combined Displaced Workers Files, we find that mobility positively affects earnings and partially explains racial and ethnic earnings differentials. To test for statistical discrimination, we estimate separate earnings functions for union and non-union workers.

Note: 741

JEL Classification: J61, J64

Suggested Citation

Raphael, Steven P. and Riker, David A., Geographic Mobility, Race, and Wage Discrimination (January 1997). UCSD Economics Discussion Paper 97-05, Available at SSRN:

Steven P. Raphael (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

David A. Riker

University of California at San Diego ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0508
United States

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