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Should Workers Care about Firm Size?

  • Ana Ferrer
  • Stéphanie Lluis

The authors analyze how firms of different sizes reward measured skills and unmea¬sured ability. The empirical methodology, based on nonlinear instrumental variable estimation, permits direct estimation of the returns to unmeasured ability by firm size. An analysis of panel data from the Canadian Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics for two periods, 1993-1998 and 1996-2001, reveals statistically significant differences between firms of different sizes. In particular, returns to unmeasured ability are higher in medium-sized firms than in either small firms or large firms. The authors find that the firm-size wage gap and the differential in returns to unmeasured ability between small and medium-sized firms is mainly explained by ability sorting. The fact that larger firms reward ability less than medium-sized firms is consistent with an explanation based on monitoring costs. When firms become "too large," monitoring costs may prevent them from rewarding ability directly through wages.

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Article provided by ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School in its journal ILR Review.

Volume (Year): 62 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
Pages: 104-125

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Handle: RePEc:ilr:articl:v:62:y:2008:i:1:p:104-125
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  1. Kenneth R. Troske, 1999. "Evidence On The Employer Size-Wage Premium From Worker-Establishment Matched Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 15-26, February.
  2. Stephanie Lluis, . "The Role of Comparative Advantage and Learning in Wage Dynamics and Intra-Firm Mobility: Evidence from Germany," Working Papers 0103, Human Resources and Labor Studies, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities Campus).
  3. Luojia Hu, 2003. "The Hiring Decisions and Compensation Structures of Large Firms," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(4), pages 663-681, July.
  4. Agell, Jonas, 2003. "Why are Small Firms Different? Managers' Views," Research Papers in Economics 2003:9, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  5. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David Margolis, 1999. "High Wage Workers and High Wage Firms," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00353892, HAL.
  6. Charles Brown & James L. Medoff, 1989. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect," NBER Working Papers 2870, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Katz, Lawrence & Gibbons, Robert & Lemieux, Thomas & Parent, Daniel, 2005. "Comparative Advantage, Learning, and Sectoral Wage Determination," Scholarly Articles 2766651, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Sattinger, Michael, 1993. "Assignment Models of the Distribution of Earnings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 831-80, June.
  9. Idson, Todd L & Feaster, Daniel J, 1990. "A Selectivity Model of Employer-Size Wage Differentials," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages 99-122, January.
  10. Rene Morissette, 1993. "Canadian Jobs and Firm Size: Do Smaller Firms Pay Less?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 26(1), pages 159-74, February.
  11. Garen, John E, 1985. "Worker Heterogeneity, Job Screening, and Firm Size," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(4), pages 715-39, August.
  12. Lemieux, Thomas, 1998. "Estimating the Effects of Unions on Wage Inequality in a Panel Data Model with Comparative Advantage and Nonrandom Selection," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 261-91, April.
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