The Draw of Home: How Teachers' Preferences for Proximity Disadvantage Urban Schools

By Donald BoydHamilton LankfordSusanna LoebJames Wyckoff
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management
2005 Vol. 24 Issue 1 Pages 113–132.

This paper explores a little-understood aspect of labor markets, their spatial geography. Using data from New York State, we find teacher labor markets to be geographically very small. Teachers express preferences to teach close to where they grew up and, controlling for proximity, they prefer areas with characteristics similar to their hometown. We discuss implications of these preferences for the successful recruitment of teachers, including the potential benefits of local recruiting and training. We also discuss implications for the modeling of teacher labor markets, including the possible biases that arise in estimates of compensating differentials when distance is omitted from the analyses. This study contributes to the literature on the geography of labor markets more generally by employing data on residential location during childhood instead of current residence, which may be endogenous to job choice. © 2005 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.