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Should Workers Care About Firm Size?

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  • Ana Ferrer

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  • Stephanie Lluis

    ()

Abstract

The question of wage differentials by firm size has been studied for several decades with no commonly accepted explanations for why large firms pay more. In this paper, we reexamine the relationship between firm size and wage outcomes by estimating the returns to unmeasured ability between large and small firms. Our empirical methodology, based on non- linear instrumental variable estimations, allows us to directly estimate the returns to unmeasured ability by firm size and, therefore, to test the two main theories of wage determination proposed to explain the relationship between firm size and wages, namely ability sorting and job screening. We use data from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID), which provides longitudinal information on workers' and firms' characteristics, including establishment and firm size. We find significant differences in the returns to unmeasured ability across firm size. In particular, we find that the returns to unmeasured ability seem to follow a non-linear pattern. The returns to unmeasured ability are significantly higher in medium size (above 500, but below 1000 workers) firms relative to small firms. However, the returns to unmeasured ability are not significantly greater in large firms relative to medium or small firms. Overall, it seems that ability sorting dominates for moves from small to medium size firms in that ability is more productive and, therefore, more rewarded in the latter than the former. On the other hand, when firms become "too large," the monitoring costs hypothesis seems to dominate in that ability is not more rewarded than in smaller firms.

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Paper provided by Human Resources and Labor Studies, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities Campus) in its series Working Papers with number 0204.

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Handle: RePEc:hrr:papers:0204

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Keywords: Firm Size; Comparative Advantage; Self-selection; Job Screening; Ability Sorting;

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References

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  1. 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.
  2. Rene Morissette, 1993. "Canadian Jobs and Firm Size: Do Smaller Firms Pay Less?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 26(1), pages 159-74, February.
  3. Jonas Agell, 2004. "Why are Small Firms Different? Managers' Views," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(3), pages 437-452, October.
  4. Kenneth R. Troske, 1998. "Evidence on the Employer Size-Wage Premium From Worker-Establishment Matched Data," Labor and Demography 9807001, EconWPA.
  5. Idson, Todd L & Feaster, Daniel J, 1990. "A Selectivity Model of Employer-Size Wage Differentials," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages 99-122, January.
  6. Stephanie Lluis, . "The Role of Comparative Advantage and Learning in Wage Dynamics and Intra-Firm Mobility: Evidence from Germany," Working Papers 0103, Human Resources and Labor Studies, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities Campus).
  7. Luojia Hu, 2003. "The hiring decisions and compensation structures of large firms," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(4), pages 663-681, July.
  8. Charles Brown & James L. Medoff, 1989. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect," NBER Working Papers 2870, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Robert Gibbons & Lawrence F. Katz & Thomas Lemieux & Daniel Parent, 2002. "Comparative Advantage, Learning, and Sectoral Wage Determination," CIRANO Working Papers 2002s-35, CIRANO.
  10. Lemieux, Thomas, 1998. "Estimating the Effects of Unions on Wage Inequality in a Panel Data Model with Comparative Advantage and Nonrandom Selection," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 261-91, April.
  11. Garen, John E, 1985. "Worker Heterogeneity, Job Screening, and Firm Size," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(4), pages 715-39, August.
  12. Sattinger, Michael, 1993. "Assignment Models of the Distribution of Earnings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 831-80, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Thierry Lallemand & Robert Plasman & François Rycx, 2005. "The establishment-size wage premium: evidence from European countries," DULBEA Working Papers 05-07.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  2. Thierry Lallemand & François Rycx, 2005. "Establishment size and the dispersion of wages: evidence from European Countries," DULBEA Working Papers 05-18.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  3. Naci H. Mocan & Erdal Tekin, 2009. "Obesity, Self-esteem and Wages," NBER Working Papers 15101, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Alexander Muravyev, 2007. "Firm Size, Wages and Unobserved Skills: Evidence from Dual Job Holdings in the UK," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 681, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  5. Thierry Lallemand & François Rycx, 2007. "Employer Size and the Structure of Wages: A Critical Survey," Reflets et perspectives de la vie économique, De Boeck Université, vol. 0(2), pages 75-87.
  6. Lixin Cai & C. Jeffrey Waddoups, 2009. "The Role of Unobserved Heterogeneity and On-the-Job Training in the Employer Size-Wage Effect: Evidence from Australia," Working Papers 0915, University of Nevada, Las Vegas , Department of Economics.
  7. Rui Baptista & Francisco Lima & Miguel Preto, 2013. "Entrepreneurial skills and workers’ wages in small firms," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 309-323, February.
  8. Robertas Zubrickas, 2011. "Managerial accountability for payroll expense and firm-size wage effects," IEW - Working Papers 474, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  9. Justina A.V. Fischer & Alfonso Sousa-Poza, 2006. "The Institutional Determinants of Early Retirement in Europe," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2006 2006-08, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  10. Cerejeira, João & Guimarães, Paulo, 2012. "The price of unobservables and the employer-size wage premium," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(3), pages 878-880.

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