Mike Zabek

Economics PhD Candidate
Labor, macro, and urban/regional economics
University of Michigan
Department of Economics

Working papers

Local ties lead people to stay in declining areas. Using the share of people who were born in the same state that they live in as a proxy for local ties, I find that aggregate migration responses are smaller in areas where people's local ties are stronger. I develop a spatial equilibrium model where people have idiosyncratic ties to their "homes" and use it to derive welfare implications. In the model, declining areas attract fewer outsiders and have lower net migration elasticities. The lower migration elasticities in declining areas imply that welfare can decline by more without a migration response. They also imply that locally focused programs, like place based policies, lead to smaller dead weight losses.

Full text

(With David Albouy)

Inequality in U.S. housing prices and rents both declined in the mid-20th century, even as home-ownership rates rose. Subsequently, housing-price inequality has risen to pre-War levels, while rent inequality has risen less. Combining both measures, we see inequality in housing consumption equivalents mirroring patterns in income across both space and time, according to an income elasticity of housing demand just below one. These patterns occur mainly within cities, and are not explained by observed changes in dwelling characteristics or locations. Instead, recent increases in housing inequality are driven most by changes in the relative value of locations, seen especially through land.

Full text (revision soon)

Press (selected): Washington Post

Work in progress

Parental Proximity and the Earnings Consequences of Job Loss

(With Patrick Coate and Pawel Krolikowski)

We find post-job-loss earnings recovery is faster for young adults who live near their parents than for young adults who live farther away. This positive effect diminishes gradually as the distance to one’s parents increases. Most of the effect is driven by higher wages after job displacement, not by differences in the number of hours worked. The effect is not present for older workers, who may be caring for elderly parents.

Cleveland Fed Economic Commentary (working paper soon)

Press (selected): Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Time, Business Insider