Essays in applied spatial microeconomics
In the first essay, I examine the price behavior of consumer goods in the strategically vital country of Pakistan. Results show that prices converge both temporally and spatially. A wage-adjusted Consumer Price Index shows that Pakistani cities have converging costs of living. Finally, a novel measure of cointegration ranks the most and least economically integrated cities. Divergence does not occur along provincial, linguistic, or ethnic boundaries. In the second essay, paper I examine private sector job growth in cities across the United States from 1990 to 2018. Defining “concentration” as a city’s sectoral Herfindahl-Hirschman Index, I find that cities with greater economic concentration subsequently experience more job growth than comparable cities with less concentration. However, the skewed distribution of job growth by sector means that cities face a trade-off between risk and reward analogous to an investment portfolio. In the third and final essay, we examine how changes in rainfall affect the persistence of conflict in Africa using fine-grained grid cell level data. Using Markov transition matrices, we examine the persistence of conflict in grid cells across the African continent and the likelihood of transitioning into and out of conflict. We incorporate the Markov probabilities into a panel logit model to analyze how monthly variations in rainfall affect the probability that an area transitions from peace to conflict. We find that peace is highly persistent across Africa, while violence is more transient. We also find that insufficient rainfall early in the wet season is associated with conflict in several regions.