Articles, Book Chapters, Technical Papers

“The Effect of Metropolitan Technological Progress on the Non-Metropolitan Labor Market: Evidence from U.S. Patents” (with Mark D. Partridge), Accepted for publication in Regional Studies. (Publication Version; Working Paper)

Abstract: While urban technology exerts a positive effect on rural development through knowledge spillovers, it also raises the competitive advantage of urban firms over rural firms in product market competition. Urban technology also affects the rural labor market through brain drain. Using U.S. county-level data, we find a negative relationship between metropolitan patent counts and nonmetropolitan labor market performance. Our basic calculation indicates that between 2005 and 2015, metropolitan technological progress was associated with a relative loss of about 2.5 million nonmetropolitan jobs.

Abstract: We live in the “age of migration.” Migration can take different forms: local, domestic, or cross-border (regional or international). In recent years, a considerable amount of attention has been directed to the socio-economic aspects of cross-border (interregional and international) migration (see, e.g., Stough et al. in Modelling aging and migration effects on spatial labor markets. Springer, Berlin, 2018). In the Handbook on the “Economics of International Migration” (Chiswick and Miller in Handbook on the economics of international migration. North-Holland Publishing, Amsterdam, 2015), we find many interesting economic contributions on migration phenomena, mainly from a macro- or meso-economic angle. It should be recognized, however, that migration is not only an economic or demographic phenomenon, but it also has clear geographical dimensions in terms of socio-economic drivers of, or impacts on, places of origin or destination.

Abstract: This study examines the effects of natural disasters on consumption in Thailand and the Philippines, using three large natural disasters for each country. A decline in consumption is observed after natural disasters in Thailand. This decline stems from a reduction in expenditures of the service sector including recreation, restaurants, and hotels, though the decline is partially offset by increased spending on non-durable goods. For the Philippines, declines in overall consumer spending are observed in response to natural disasters with no specific sectoral responses in the sample. The policy implications of natural disasters are then discussed in the final part of the paper.

Abstract: Economic transition away from dependence on coal mining can be difficult and costly but can yield significant medium-term gains. As nations move away from coal production and coal-based energy generation, the transition creates short-term economic disruption to coal communities, notably through job losses and severe economic recession. In the medium term, however, transition can generate ‘winners’, both locally and in other regions. Displaced coal sector workers may find jobs in more sustainable and more productive industries. Environmental degradation from mining activities can give way to restoration and conversion of natural resource assets. And both coal and noncoal regions can benefit from reduced pollution and healthier people, directly improving human capital. But local economic downturns can also persist to the point that economic decline threatens a community’s viability. The likelihood of this more pessimistic outcome increases in coal regions that are already lagging their non-coal counterparts in terms of economic well-being. This paper examines the transition away from coal mining in the Appalachia region of the United States and the impact on local communities; the aim is to identify factors that helped some communities transition more successfully than others. The analysis looks beyond traditional economic factors and considers broader social and institutional aspects germane to the community capitals literature. Whether driven by new market realities or the imperative to mitigate climate-change, coal communities in other countries will need to transition to alternative economic activities and can benefit from the experiences of coal regions in Appalachia or elsewhere.

Working Papers

Abstract: The skill-biased technical change empirical literature has been silent regarding two key channels of labor supply, migration and demand for college education, through which technology increases divergence in incomes, skills, and productivity across urban areas. Using patents as a measure of skill-biased technical change, I shed new light on technology-induced spatial inequalities. Instrumental variables estimations show that from 2005 to 2015 the local demand for college education played a greater role in explaining skill divergence between U.S. urban counties. I find positive relationships between urban income divergence and specific skill-biased technological changes, including computer and data processing, telecommunications, and automation.

Abstract: Previous studies have used the total number of students to investigate the enrollment decisions of public universities. We propose a new paradigm as to how public universities maximize their utility of enrollment and education quality by considering tuition fees as another sources of the university revenues. Empirically, our results indicate a strong cross-subsidy effect of non-residents tuition fee on resident enrollment in public universities. Neither revenues nor expenditures affect the graduation rate of students enrolled in universities, and most students graduate within 6 years. We do find that the non-resident exchange students can crowd out resident enrollment in public universities.


  • Oudom Hean and Sek Sophal, "Holding Students Hostage: The Military Scholarship Program and the Decline of American Foreign Policy in Cambodia," Commentary Board, July 14, 2021.

  • Oudom Hean, "The Effects of Technology on the Labor Market," Voice of America, December 17, 2018. (Cambodian Language)