Jorge De la Roca
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Policy

Jorge De la Roca is a Research Fellow at the NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. His fields of interest include urban economics, economic geography and labor economics, with a particular focus on the study of agglomeration economies and urban migration. At the Furman Center he is working in the areas of neighborhood change and land use regulation and studying recent trends in racial segregation in US cities. He completed his BA in Economics at Universidad del Pacífico in Lima, and his MPhil and PhD in Economics at CEMFI. Before joining the Furman Center, Jorge worked as a research assistant at the Center for International Development CID at Harvard University, the International Food Policy Research Institute IFPRI in Washington, DC and the Group for the Analysis of Development GRADE in Lima, Perú.

Semester Course
Spring 2015 URPL-GP.2608.001 Urban Economics

The field of urban economics addresses a wide variety of questions and topics. At the most general level, the field introduces space into economic models and studies the location of economic activity. Urban economics typically addresses four sets of questions, and this course is organized around these four areas. The first set of questions focuses on the development of urban areas. Why do cities exist and why do some grow more rapidly? How can local governments encourage such growth? The second set of questions addresses patterns of development within metropolitan areas. Why do certain parts of metropolitan areas grow more rapidly than others? How do firms and households decide where to locate within given metropolitan areas? What determines the price of land, and how do these prices vary across space? The third set of questions concerns the spatial dimensions of urban problems. In this class, we will focus on poverty, housing, and suburban sprawl. Finally, in the last part of the class, we will briefly study the spatial aspects of local government.

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Fall 2014 CORE-GP.1018.002 Microeconomics for Public Management, Planning, and Policy Analysis

The primary purpose of the microeconomics core course is to enable you to use microeconomic thinking, concepts and tools in your professional public service work. Accomplishing this also requires refreshing and strengthening your quantitative skills.

The course begins with the basics of supply and demand and market operations, and uses this as the context for considering consumer and organizational decisions within a given market structure. The course builds to applying economic analysis to a variety of public issues such as the effects of taxation, the market structure of health care, the impacts of the minimum wage, the effects of international trade and various approaches to environmental externalities.

By the end of the course you should be able to articulate the economic context and analysis of a public problem, use economic concepts in managerial and policy decisions, and progress to second level courses confident of your understanding of microeconomics and its tools.

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Date Publication/Paper

Jorge De la Roca 2014. Wage cyclicality: Evidence from Spain using social security data SERIEs Journal of the Spanish Economic Association (2014),
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Using longitudinal social security data, this study finds evidence of weak real wage cyclicality in Spain throughout 1988–2011. The baseline estimate of a 0.4 % increase in wages in response to a one percentage point decline in the unemployment rate lies in the lower bound of available estimates for developed countries. Wage cyclicality in a rigid labour market like Spain is mainly driven by workers under temporary contracts and newly-hired workers. I calculate the cyclicality of the net present value of wages in new matches—the relevant piece of information for firms posting vacancies, but a rarely available measure—and find that it is well approximated by the cyclicality of wages for newly-hired workers.

I.G. Ellen et al. 2014. The State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods in 2013 Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, New York University
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The State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods in 2013 report , published annually by the NYU Furman Center, provides a compendium of data and analysis about New York City’s housing, land use, demographics, and quality of life indicators for each borough and the city’s 59 community districts.

The report combines timely and expert analysis of NYU Furman Center researchers with data transparency. It is presented in three parts:

Part 1: Focus on Economic Inequality

Each year, the State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods describes, contextualizes, and provides analysis on a pressing and policy-relevant issue affecting New York City. In 2013, the report focuses on economic inequality in New York City, analyzing changes over time in the distribution of the city’s income, economic segregation of city residents, and the neighborhood environments experienced by people of different incomes.

Part 2: City-Wide Analysis

The City-Wide Analysis provides a broad, longitudinal analysis of the New York City's housing and neighborhoods. The chapter is divided into five parts: land use and the built environment; homeowners and their homes; renters and their homes; income and workers; and neighborhood services and conditions.

Part 3: City, Borough, and Community District Data

The data section provides current and historical statistics for over 50 housing, neighborhood, and socioeconomic indicators at the city, borough, and community district levels. It also includes indicator definitions and rankings; methods; and an index of New York City’s Community Districts and Sub-Borough Areas.

De la Roca, Jorge and Diego Puga. 2014. Learning by working in big cities. Discussion Paper 9243, Centre for Economic Policy Research
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Individual earnings are higher in bigger cities. We consider three reasons: spatial sorting of initially more productive workers, static advantages associated with workers' current location, and learning by working in big cities. Using rich administrative data for Spain, we find that workers in bigger cities do not have higher unobserved initial ability, as reflected in individual fixed-effects. Instead, they obtain an immediate static premium while working in bigger cities and also accumulate more valuable experience, which increases their earnings faster. The additional value of experience accumulated in bigger cities persists even after workers move away and is even stronger for those with higher unobserved initial ability. This combination of effects explains both the higher mean and the greater dispersion of earnings in bigger cities.


De la Roca, Jorge, Ingrid Gould Ellen and Katherine M. O'Regan. 2013. Race and neighborhoods in the 21st century: What does segregation mean today? Regional Science and Urban Economics (2013),
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Noting the decline in segregation between blacks and whites over the past several decades, some recent work argues that racial segregation is no longer a concern in the 21st century. In response, this paper revisits some of the concerns that John Quigley raised about racial segregation and neighborhoods to assess their relevance today. We note that while segregation levels between blacks and whites have certainly declined, they remain quite high; Hispanic and Asian segregation have meanwhile remained unchanged. Further, our analysis shows that the neighborhood environments of minorities continue to be highly unequal to those enjoyed by whites. Blacks and Hispanics continue to live among more disadvantaged neighbors, to have access to lower performing schools, and to be exposed to more violent crime. Further, these differences are amplified in more segregated metropolitan areas.