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High wage workers and low wage firms: negative assortative matching or limited mobility bias?

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  • M. J. Andrews
  • L. Gill
  • T. Schank
  • R. Upward

Abstract

Summary. In the empirical literature on assortative matching using linked employer–employee data, unobserved worker quality appears to be negatively correlated with unobserved firm quality. We show that this can be caused by standard estimation error. We develop formulae that show that the estimated correlation is biased downwards if there is true positive assortative matching and when any conditioning covariates are uncorrelated with the firm and worker fixed effects. We show that this bias is bigger the fewer movers there are in the data, which is ‘limited mobility bias’. This result applies to any two‐way (or higher) error components model that is estimated by fixed effects methods. We apply these bias corrections to a large German linked employer–employee data set. We find that, although the biases can be considerable, they are not sufficiently large to remove the negative correlation entirely.

Suggested Citation

  • M. J. Andrews & L. Gill & T. Schank & R. Upward, 2008. "High wage workers and low wage firms: negative assortative matching or limited mobility bias?," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 171(3), pages 673-697, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jorssa:v:171:y:2008:i:3:p:673-697
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-985X.2007.00533.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John M. Abowd & Robert H. Creecy & Francis Kramarz, 2002. "Computing Person and Firm Effects Using Linked Longitudinal Employer-Employee Data," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-06, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    2. Gruetter, Max & Lalive, Rafael, 2009. "The importance of firms in wage determination," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 149-160, April.
    3. Andrews, Martyn J. & Schank, Thorsten & Upward, Richard, 2004. "Practical estimation methods for linked employer-employee data," Discussion Papers 29, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
    4. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1999. "High Wage Workers and High Wage Firms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(2), pages 251-334, March.
    5. Alp E. Atakan, 2006. "Assortative Matching with Explicit Search Costs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(3), pages 667-680, May.
    6. John M. Abowd (corresponding) & Francis Kramarz, 2004. "Are Good Workers Employed by Good Firms? A Simple Test of Positive Assortative Matching Models," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 385, Econometric Society.
    7. Alda, Holger & Bender, Stefan & Gartner, Hermann, 2005. "The linked employer-employee dataset of the IAB (LIAB)," IAB-Discussion Paper 200506, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    8. Goux, Dominique & Maurin, Eric, 1999. "Persistence of Interindustry Wage Differentials: A Reexamination Using Matched Worker-Firm Panel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(3), pages 492-533, July.
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