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Reservation Wages: Explaining Some Puzzling Regional Patterns


  • Paolo Sestito
  • Eliana Viviano


We use the Italian Labour Force Survey and the European Household Panel Survey to analyse the distribution of the reservation wages reported by jobseekers. In Italy, reservation wages appear to be higher in the South - the low income and high unemployment area of the country - than in the North and Centre. A similar, rather counterintuitive, pattern, however, can also be found in Finland, France and Spain. First, we show that the way in which these data are commonly collected generates double selection bias. Second, we show that this bias has a strong effect on the estimation of the geographical pattern of reservation wages in many countries. The size of this bias is substantial in Italy. When controlling for it, reservation wages are 10 per cent higher in the North and Centre than in the South.
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Suggested Citation

  • Paolo Sestito & Eliana Viviano, 2011. "Reservation Wages: Explaining Some Puzzling Regional Patterns," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 25(1), pages 63-88, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:labour:v:25:y:2011:i:1:p:63-88
    DOI: j.1467-9914.2010.00508.x

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Harry J. Holzer, 1986. "Reservation Wages and Their Labor Market Effects for Black and White Male Youth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(2), pages 157-177.
    2. Ugo Trivellato & Anna Giraldo, 2006. "Assessing the 'Choosiness' of Job-seekers. An Exploratory Approach and Evidence for Italy," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 20(1), pages 1-36, March.
    3. Addison, John T. & Centeno, Mario & Portugal, Pedro, 2004. "Reservation Wages, Search Duration, and Accepted Wages in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 1252, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Tito Boeri & Pietro Garibaldi, "undated". "Shadow Activity and Unemployment in a Depressed Labor Market," Working Papers 177, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    5. Böheim, René, 2002. "The association between reported and calculated reservation wages," ISER Working Paper Series 2002-07, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    6. Albert Alesina & Stephan Danninger & Massimo Rostagno, 2001. "Redistribution Through Public Employment: The Case of Italy," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 48(3), pages 1-2.
    7. Franco Peracchi, 2002. "The European Community Household Panel: A review," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 63-90.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kawata, Keisuke & Nakajima, Kentaro & Sato, Yasuhiro, 2016. "Multi-region job search with moving costs," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 114-129.
    2. Kristina Nyström & Gulzat Zhetibaeva Elvung, 2015. "New Firms as Employers: The Wage Penalty for Voluntary and Involuntary Job Switchers," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 29(4), pages 348-366, December.
    3. Khurshid Alam & Sakiba Tasneem & Molla Huq, 2014. "Reservation wage of female volunteer community health workers in Dhaka urban slums: a bidding game approach," Health Economics Review, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 1-10, December.
    4. Antonio Accetturo & Luigi Infante, 2013. "Skills or culture? An analysis of the decision to work by immigrant women in Italy," IZA Journal of Migration, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-21, December.
    5. John T. Addison & José A. F. Machado & Pedro Portugal, 2013. "The Reservation Wage Unemployment Duration Nexus," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 75(6), pages 980-987, December.
    6. Brugiavini, Agar, 2009. "Welfare reforms and labour supply in Italy," Working Paper Series 2009:29, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    7. World Bank, 2014. "Tunisia : Breaking the Barriers to Youth Inclusion
      [Tunisie - Surmonter les obstacles a l'inclusion des jeunes]
      ," World Bank Other Operational Studies 20693, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population


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