Wage Dispersion, Compensation Policy and the Role of Firms
AbstractEmpirical work in economics stresses the importance of unobserved firm- and person-level characteristics in the determination of wages, finding that these unobserved components account for the overwhelming majority of variation in wages. However, little is known about the mechanisms sustaining these wage di¤er- entials. This paper attempts to demystify the firm-side of the puzzle by developing a statistical model that enriches the role that firms play in wage determination, allowing firms to influence both average wages as well as the returns to observable worker characteristics. I exploit the hierarchical nature of a unique employer-employee linked dataset for the United States, estimating a multilevel statistical model of earnings that accounts for firm-specific deviations in average wages as well as the returns to components of human capital - race, gender, education, and experience - while also controlling for person-level heterogeneity in earnings. These idiosyncratic prices reflect one aspect of firm compensation policy; another, and more novel aspect, is the unstructured characterization of the covariance of these prices across firms. I estimate the model's variance parameters using Restricted (or Residual) Maximum Likelihood tech- niques. Results suggest that there is significant variation in the returns to worker characteristics across firms. First, estimates of the parameters of the covariance matrix of firm-specific returns are statistically significant. Firms that tend to pay higher average wages also tend to pay higher than average returns to worker characteristics; firms that tend to reward highly the human capital of men also highly reward the human capital of women. For instance, the correlation between the firm-specific returns to education for men and women is 0.57. Second, the firm-specific returns account for roughly 9% of the variation in wages - approximately 50% of the variation in wages explained by firm-specific intercepts alone. The inclusion of firm-specific returns ties variation in wages, otherwise attributable to firm-specific intercepts, to observable components of human capital.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers with number 2005-04.
Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2005
Date of revision:
compensation policy; employer-employee longitudinal data; human capital;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
- J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
- J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
- J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
- M50 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting - - Personnel Economics - - - General
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Edward P. Lazear, 2003. "Firm-Specific Human Capital: A Skill-Weights Approach," NBER Working Papers 9679, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 1995.
"Employer Size and The Wage Structure in U.S. Manufacturing,"
NBER Working Papers
5393, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Steven J. DAVIS & John HALTIWANGER, 1996. "Employer Size and the Wage Structure in U.S. Manufacturing," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 41-42, pages 323-367.
- Brown, Charles & Medoff, James, 1989.
"The Employer Size-Wage Effect,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1027-59, October.
- Bronars, Stephen G & Famulari, Melissa, 1997. "Wage, Tenure, and Wage Growth Variation within and across Establishment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 285-317, April.
- Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
- John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1999.
"High Wage Workers and High Wage Firms,"
Econometric Society, vol. 67(2), pages 251-334, March.
- Abowd, J.M. & Kramarz, F. & Margolis, D.N., 1995. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," Cahiers de recherche 9503, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
- Abowd, J.M. & Kramarz, F. & Margolis, D.N., 1995. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," Cahiers de recherche 9503, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
- John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1994. "High Wage Workers and High Wage Firms," NBER Working Papers 4917, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1994. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," CIRANO Working Papers 94s-23, CIRANO.
- Erica Groshen & David Levine, 1998. "The rise and decline(?) of U.S. internal labor markets," Research Paper 9819, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
- John M. Abowd & Bryce E. Stephens & Lars Vilhuber & Fredrik Andersson & Kevin L. McKinney & Marc Roemer & Simon Woodcock, 2009.
"The LEHD Infrastructure Files and the Creation of the Quarterly Workforce Indicators,"
in: Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data, pages 149-230
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- John M. Abowd & Bryce E. Stephens & Lars Vilhuber & Fredrik Andersson & Kevin L. McKinney & Marc Roemer & Simon Woodcock, 2002. "The LEHD Infrastructure Files and the Creation of the Quarterly Workforce Indicators," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-05, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
- John Abowd & Bryce Stephens & Lars Vilhuber, 2006. "The LEHD Infrastructure Files and the Creation of the Quarterly Workforce Indicators," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2006-01, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
- Baker, George & Gibbs, Michael & Holmstrom, Bengt, 1994. "The Wage Policy of a Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 921-55, November.
- Casey Ichniowski & Kathryn Shaw, 2003. "Beyond Incentive Pay: Insiders' Estimates of the Value of Complementary Human Resource Management Practices," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 155-180, Winter.
- A. R. Cardoso, 2000. "Wage differentials across firms: an application of multilevel modelling," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(4), pages 343-354.
- Groshen, Erica L, 1991. "Sources of Intra-industry Wage Dispersion: How Much Do Employers Matter?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(3), pages 869-84, August.
- Lazear, Edward P, 2000. "The Future of Personnel Economics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(467), pages F611-39, November.
- Ana Rute Cardoso, 1999. "Firms' wage policies and the rise in labor market inequality: The case of Portugal," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 53(1), pages 87-102, October.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Erika McEntarfer).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.