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Heterogeneity and Learning in Labor Markets

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  • Woodcock Simon D

    () (Simon Fraser University)

Abstract

I develop an equilibrium matching model where heterogeneous workers and firms learn about match quality and bargain over wages. The model generalizes Jovanovic (1979) to the case of heterogeneous workers and firms. Equilibrium wage dispersion arises due to productivity differences between workers, technological differences between firms, and heterogeneity in beliefs about match quality. Under a simple CRS technology, the equilibrium wage is additively separable in worker- and firm-specific components as well as in the posterior mean of beliefs about match quality. This parallels the person and firm effects empirical specification of Abowd et al (1999) and others. The model predicts a negative correlation between estimated person and firm effects, which is consistent with most previous empirical evidence. I estimate the equilibrium wage function and test the model's empirical predictions using linked employer-employee data from the U.S. Census Bureau. I find empirical support for many of the model's predictions and estimate that dispersion in beliefs about match quality explains over 20 percent of observed earnings variation.

Suggested Citation

  • Woodcock Simon D, 2010. "Heterogeneity and Learning in Labor Markets," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-69, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:10:y:2010:i:1:n:85
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    Cited by:

    1. Albert Berry, 2017. "Employment and Efficiency Effects of Social Security (SS) and Social Protection (SP) Systems in the Context of an Informal Sector and Market Imperfections: A Conceptual Review," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 015567, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO.
    2. Carl Sanders, 2012. "Skill Uncertainty, Skill Accumulation, and Occupational Choice," 2012 Meeting Papers 633, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Woodcock, Simon D., 2015. "Match effects," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 100-121.
    4. Cristian Bartolucci & Francesco Devicienti, 2012. "Better Workers Move to Better Firms: A Simple Test to Identify Sorting," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 259, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    5. Araújo, Bruno César & Paz, Lourenço S., 2014. "The effects of exporting on wages: An evaluation using the 1999 Brazilian exchange rate devaluation," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 1-16.
    6. Woodcock, Simon D., 2008. "Wage differentials in the presence of unobserved worker, firm, and match heterogeneity," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 771-793, August.
    7. Sónia Torres & Pedro Portugal & John T. Addison & Paulo Guimarães, 2013. "The sources of wage variation: a three-way high-dimensional fixed effects regression model," Working Papers w201309, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    8. Torben Sørensen & Rune Vejlin, 2013. "The importance of worker, firm and match effects in the formation of wages," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 435-464, August.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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