Mansueto Institute Colloquium Series
The Mansueto Institute hosts biweekly talks during the academic year from scholars, including our postdoctoral fellows, on topics related to urban science and sustainability. Participate either in-person, where lunch is include, or via Zoom. Talks take place in Central Time, from 12:30-1:30 pm on Wednesdays at 1155 E. 60th Street on the University of Chicago campus, unless otherwise noted.
Remote Work and City Structure
Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor, Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics University of Chicago
Wednesday, November 30, 12:30 PM
Hybrid Event: 1155 E. 60th Street, Mansueto Institute Lounge, or via Zoom
Remote work is a rapidly growing form of labor delivery, thanks to gradual progress in communication technology. More recently, the global pandemic crisis demonstrated that a dramatic increase in remote work is feasible. Across all large cities, we witnessed empty central business districts and stronger housing demand for larger units away from city centers. As public health concerns about Covid-19 recede, we are left with longer-term questions about the future of remote work and its impact on the spatial organization of cities. Remote work offers clear advantages to workers by removing the need to commute to the workplace. However, it also suppresses gains from direct interaction at work that depend on the presence of co-workers. This externality may lead to multiple equilibria, where either most workers commute or most workers stay home. Which of these equilibria is most beneficial to workers is a priori ambiguous. We model and estimate the consequences of progress in remote work technology on the long-term structure of cities and use it to study the role of path dependence in determining which stationary equilibrium is ultimately reached.