How local barriers to migration shape relocation and earnings in the wake of china trade shocks

Project Summary:

In the past, migration was an important way Americans reacted to economic shocks. When one area was hit by a decline in labor demand, residents of the area could respond by moving to an area where demand for their labor was higher. But internal migration has been falling and may be a reason why incomes for most Americans have stagnated. In an era of low labor mobility, what determines who responds to the shock via migration? This research seeks to extend recent work that has studied the impact of the well-documented shock from increased Chinese imports on the mobility of affected workers across firms, industries, and local labor markets. The authors have access to rich census data that allows them to trace individuals over time and space, and to observe many variables that may affect the likelihood of an individual’s mobility response to the trade shock—for example, demographics, historical migration flows between locations, and presence of higher education opportunities. This project will look at the net mobility of each region, and also dig into the gross inflows and outflows to better understand the underlying mechanisms.


Abigail Wozniak is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Notre Dame, working primarily in the field of labor economics. She is currently a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and a Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Bonn, Germany. Over 2014-2015, she served as Senior Economist to the White House Council of Economic Advisers, working on labor economics issues. She was a Visiting Fellow at Princeton University in 2008-09. She is a graduate of Harvard University (PhD) and the University of Chicago (AB). She is a Wisconsin native and a former Associate Economist at the Chicago Federal Reserve. Her research has examined migration between states and cities as well as employer compensation and screening policies.

Selected Publications