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

  • Yannis M. Ioannides
  • Adriaan R. Soetevent

This discussion paper resulted in an article in the 'American Economic Review' (2006). Volume 96, issue 2, pages 270-274. 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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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 96 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 270-274

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:96:y:2006:i:2:p:270-274
Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282806777212062
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  1. Samuel Bentolila & Claudio Michelacci & Javier Suarez, 2004. "Social Contacts And Occupational Choice," Working Papers wp2004_06, CEMFI.
  2. Matt Jackson, 2003. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," Theory workshop papers 658612000000000032, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. Fontaine Francois, 2004. "Why are similar workers paid differently? The role of social networks," Labor and Demography 0408014, EconWPA, revised 09 Sep 2004.
  5. Calvó-Armengol, Antoni & Zenou, Yves, 2001. "Job Matching, Social Network and Word-of-Mouth Communication," CEPR Discussion Papers 2797, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. 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.
  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. 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.
  9. 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.
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