Assistant Professor of Economics

Cecile Gaubert Picture

Mailing Address:
University of California
Department of Economics
687 Evans Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720

Office Location:
687 Evans Hall

Tel.:. (510) 643-5397
Fax: (510) 642-0822

E-mail: cecile.gaubert@berkeley.edu

Fields of Specialization

  • International Trade
  • Economic Geography

Working Papers

  • Firm Sorting and Agglomeration, conditionally accepted at the American Economic Review

    Abstract: The distribution of firms in space is far from uniform. Some locations host the most productive large firms, while others barely attract any. In this paper, I study the sorting of heterogeneous firms across locations and analyze policies designed to attract firms to particular regions (place-based policies). I first propose a theory of the distribution of heterogeneous firms in a variety of sectors across cities. Aggregate TFP and welfare depend on the extent of agglomeration externalities produced in cities and on how heterogeneous firms sort across them. The distribution of city sizes and the sorting patterns of firms are uniquely determined in equilibrium. This allows me to structurally estimate the model, using French firm-level data. I find that nearly two thirds of the observed productivity advantage of large cities is due to firm sorting. I use the estimated model to quantify the general equilibrium effects of place-based policies. I find that policies that decrease local congestion lead to a new spatial equilibrium with higher aggregate TFP and welfare. In contrast, policies that subsidize under-developed areas have negative aggregate effects .

  • Tourism and Economic Development: Evidence from Mexico's Coastline (with Ben Faber), revised and resubmitted at the American Economic Review

    Abstract: Tourism is a fast-growing services sector in developing countries. This paper combines a rich collection of Mexican microdata with a quantitative spatial equilibrium model and a new empirical strategy to study the long-term economic consequences of tourism both locally and in the aggregate. We find that tourism causes large and significant local economic gains relative to less touristic regions that are in part driven by significant positive spillovers on manufacturing. In the aggregate, however, these local spillovers are largely offset by reductions in agglomeration economies among less touristic regions, so that the national gains from tourism are mainly driven by a classical market integration effect.

  • Granular Comparative Advantage (with Oleg Itskhoki)

    Abstract: Firms play a pivotal role in international trade, shaping the comparative advantage of the countries. We propose a `granular' multi-sector model of trade, which combines together fundamental comparative advantage across sectors with granular comparative advantage due to outstanding productivity draws of individual firms. We develop a SMM-based estimation procedure, which takes full account of the general equilibrium of the model, and jointly estimate the fundamental and the granular forces using French micro-level data with information on firm domestic and export sales across manufacturing industries. The estimated granular model captures the salient features of micro-level heterogeneity across firms and industries, without relying on variation in model parameters across sectors. The estimated model implies that one third of trade flows is explained by granular forces, and that sectors with the extreme export shares are more likely to be of `granular' origin than sectors with average export shares. Failure of a single large firm in a granular sector has dramatic effects on the relative export standing of the sector. We further show that empirically measurable proxies of granularity have a substantial predictive ability for trade flows in the estimated model, even after controlling for fundamental comparative advantage of the sectors. Lastly, extending the model to allow for firm-level productivity dynamics explains the majority of mean reversion in country's comparative advantage over time.

  • Optimal Spatial Policies, Geography and Sorting (with Pablo Fajgelbaum) (Draft coming soon)

  • The Welfare Implications of Urban Gentrification (with Victor Couture, Jessie Handbury and Erik Hurst) (Work in Progress)