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Wages and Employment in a Random Social Network with Arbitrary Degree Distribution

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  • Yannis Ioannides
  • Adriaan Soetevent

Abstract

Empirical studies of labor markets show that social contacts are an important source of job-related information [Ioannides and Loury (2004)]. At the same time, wage differences among workers may be explained only in part by differences in individual background characteristics. Such findings motivate our model in which differences in "social connectedness" among otherwise identical workers result in wage inequality and differences in unemployment rates. The paper is related to theoretical contributions by Calvo- Armengol and Jackson (2004) and Calvo-Armengol and Zenou (2005) and builds on the Pissarides (2000) model. Workers may hear about job openings directly from employers or through their social contacts. We go further by introducing heterogeneity in the number of contacts each worker has with others, i.e. in the workers' degree. We utilize results from the technical literature on random graphs with arbitrary degree distributions [Newman, (2003a)] to account for a consequence of workers' receiving information about job openings from their social contacts: they compete with their social contacts' other contacts. For social networks with arbitrary degree distributions we show that people who are better connected receive a higher wage on average and face a lower unemployment rate. Numerical computations for the specific case in which connections follow a Poisson distribution show that variability in connections can result in substantial variation in the above labor market outcomes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Tufts University in its series Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University with number 0601.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:tuf:tuftec:0601

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Keywords: job search; social networks; arbitrary degree distribution; wage inequality; incidence of unemployment;

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  1. Scott A. Boorman, 1975. "A Combinatorial Optimization Model for Transmission of Job Information through Contact Networks," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 6(1), pages 216-249, Spring.
  2. Antoni Calvó-Armengol & Matthew O. Jackson, 2004. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 426-454, June.
  3. Calvó-Armengol, Antoni & Zenou, Yves, 2001. "Job Matching, Social Network and Word-of-Mouth Communication," Seminar Papers 695, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  4. Javier Suarez & Samuel Bentolila & Claudio Michelacci, 2004. "Social Contacts and Occupational Choice," 2004 Meeting Papers 593, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Mortensen, Dale T. & Vishwanath, Tara, 1994. "Personal contacts and earnings : It is who you know!," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 187-201, March.
  6. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  7. Kenneth J. Arrow & Ron Borzekowski, 2004. "Limited network connections and the distribution of wages," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-41, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Fontaine, Francois, 2005. "Why Are Similar Workers Paid Differently? The Role of Social Networks," IZA Discussion Papers 1786, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Yannis M. Ioannides & Linda Datcher Loury, 2004. "Job Information Networks, Neighborhood Effects, and Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1056-1093, December.
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