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Identifying Sorting: In Theory

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  • Eeckhout, Jan

    ()
    (University of Pennsylvania)

  • Kircher, Philipp

    ()
    (London School of Economics)

Abstract

We argue that using wage data alone, it is virtually impossible to identify whether Assortative Matching between worker and firm types is positive or negative. In standard competitive matching models the wages are determined by the marginal contribution of a worker, and the marginal contribution might be higher or lower for low productivity firms depending on the production function. For every production function that induces positive sorting we can find a production function that induces negative sorting but generates identical wages. This arises even when we allow for non-competitive mismatch, for example due to search frictions. Even though we cannot identify the sign of the sorting, we can identify the strength, i.e., the magnitude of the cross-partial, and the associated welfare loss. While we show analytically that standard fixed effects regressions are not suitable to recover the strength of sorting, we propose an alternative procedure that measures the strength of sorting in the presence of search frictions independent of the sign of the sorting.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4004.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4004

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Related research

Keywords: sorting; assortative matching; identification; linked employer-employee data; interpretation of fixed-effects;

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References

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  1. Gérard VAN DEN BERG & Aïco VAN VUUREN, 2002. "Using Firm Data to Assess the Performance of Equilibrium Search Models of the Labor Market," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 67-68, pages 227-256.
  2. Ivar Ekeland & James Heckman & Lars Nesheim, 2002. "Identification and estimation of hedonic models," CeMMAP working papers CWP07/02, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  3. Pieter A. Gautier & Coen N. Teulings, 2006. "How Large are Search Frictions?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(6), pages 1193-1225, December.
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  8. Dupuy Arnaud, 2011. "Sorting on Skills and Preferences: Tinbergen Meets Sattinger," Research Memorandum 017, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
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  12. Jan Eeckhout & Philipp Kircher, 2010. "Sorting and decentralized price competition," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 29705, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  13. Mendes, Rute & van den Berg, Gerard J. & Lindeboom, Maarten, 2010. "An empirical assessment of assortative matching in the labor market," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(6), pages 919-929, December.
  14. Robert Shimer & Lones Smith, 2000. "Assortative Matching and Search," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 343-370, March.
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  16. Sattinger, Michael, 1975. "Comparative Advantage and the Distributions of Earnings and Abilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 43(3), pages 455-68, May.
  17. Wachter, Till von & Bender, Stefan, 2004. "In the Right Place at the Wrong Time: The Role of Firms and Luck in Young Workers' Careers," IZA Discussion Papers 1348, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. Rasmus Lentz & Jesper Bagger, 2009. "An Empirical Model of Wage Dispersion with Sorting," 2009 Meeting Papers 964, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  19. Robert Shimer, 2001. "The Assignment of Workers to Jobs In an Economy with Coordination Frictions," NBER Working Papers 8501, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Pierre Cahuc & Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2006. "Wage Bargaining with On-the-Job Search: Theory and Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(2), pages 323-364, 03.
  21. Jesper Bagger & Rasmus Lentz, 2008. "An Equilibrium Model of Wage Dispersion with Sorting," 2008 Meeting Papers 271, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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