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Social Contacts and Occupational Choice

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  • SAMUEL BENTOLILA
  • CLAUDIO MICHELACCI
  • JAVIER SUAREZ

Abstract

Social contacts help to find jobs, but not necessarily in the occupations where workers are most productive. Hence social contacts can generate mismatch between workers' occupational choices and their productive advantage. Accordingly, social networks can lead to low labour force quality, low returns to firms' investment and depressed aggregate productivity. We analyse surveys from both the US and Europe including information on job finding through contacts. Consistent with our predictions, contacts reduce unemployment duration by 1–3 months on average, but they are associated with wage discounts of at least 2.5%. We also find some evidence of negative externalities on aggregate productivity.

Suggested Citation

  • Samuel Bentolila & Claudio Michelacci & Javier Suarez, 2010. "Social Contacts and Occupational Choice," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 77(305), pages 20-45, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:77:y:2010:i:305:p:20-45
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0335.2008.00717.x
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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