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Do Friends and Relatives Really Help in Getting a Good Job?

  • Michele Pellizzari

The available empirical evidence on the wage effect of finding jobs through informal contacts is mixed. This author theorizes that, depending upon the efficiency of formal search methods, the use of personal contacts can lead either to a wage premium or to a wage penalty. Using data from the European Community Household Panel (ECHP), the author finds new evidence to suggest that across many in the countries in the European Union, premiums and penalties to finding jobs through personal contacts are equally frequent and are of about the same size. The few instances of cross-country variation that do occur appear to reflect differences in the efficiency of formal search channels. In particular, the wage effect of finding jobs through personal contacts is higher in countries with more labor market intermediaries. Differences-in-differences estimates based on the Italian liberalization of the labor recruitment industry confirm this result.

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

Volume (Year): 63 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (April)
Pages: 494-510

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Handle: RePEc:ilr:articl:v:63:y:2010:i:3:p:494-510
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  1. Harry J. Holzer, 1986. "Informal Job Search and Black Youth Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 1860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Harry J. Holzer, 1987. "Hiring Procedures in the Firm: Their Economic Determinants and Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 2185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Mortensen, D. T. & Vishwanath, T., 1995. "Personal contacts and earnings: It is who you know!," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 103-104, March.
  4. Matt Jackson, 2003. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," Theory workshop papers 658612000000000032, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, June.
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  8. Cees Gorter & Jos Van Ommeren, 1999. "Sequencing, timing and filling rates of recruitment channels," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(10), pages 1149-1160.
  9. Calvó-Armengol, Antoni & Zenou, Yves, 2003. "Job Matching, Social Network and Word-of-Mouth Communication," IZA Discussion Papers 771, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Lindeboom, M. & Ours, J.C. & Renes, G., 1991. "Matching employers and workers : an empirical analysis on the effectiveness of search," Serie Research Memoranda 0063, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
  11. Marmaros, David & Sacerdote, Bruce, 2002. "Peer and social networks in job search," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 870-879, May.
  12. David Margolis & Véronique Simonnet, 2002. "Educational Track, Networks and Labor Market Outcomes," Working Papers 2002-60, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  13. Simon, Curtis J & Warner, John T, 1992. "Matchmaker, Matchmaker: The Effect of Old Boy Networks on Job Match Quality, Earnings, and Tenure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(3), pages 306-30, July.
  14. Alan Manning, 1999. "Pretty Vacant: Recruitment in Low Wage Labour Markets," CEP Discussion Papers dp0418, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  15. Bentolila, Samuel & Michelacci, Claudio & Suarez, Javier, 2004. "Social Contacts and Occupational Choice," CEPR Discussion Papers 4308, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Franco Peracchi, 2002. "The European Community Household Panel: A review," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 63-90.
  17. Cahuc, Pierre & Fontaine, Francois, 2002. "On the Efficiency of Job Search with Social Networks," IZA Discussion Papers 583, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. Luigi Pistaferri, 1999. "Informal Networks in the Italian Labor Market," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 58(3-4), pages 355-375, December.
  19. Kugler, Adriana, 2002. "Employee Referrals and Efficiency Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 633, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  20. Harry J. Holzer, 1986. "Search Method Use by Unemployed Youth," NBER Working Papers 1859, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. de Martí, Joan & Zenou, Yves, 2009. "Social Networks," IZA Discussion Papers 4621, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  22. van Ours, J.C. & Lindeboom, M. & Renes, G., 1994. "Matching Employers and Workers : an Empirical Analysis on the Effectiveness of Search," Other publications TiSEM 3ada67c1-145c-42d0-8726-f, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  23. Gautier, Pieter A., 2002. "Non-sequential search, screening externalities and the public good role of recruitment offices," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 179-196, March.
  24. Barron, John M & Bishop, John & Dunkelberg, William C, 1985. "Employer Search: The Interviewing and Hiring of New Employees," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(1), pages 43-52, February.
  25. Roper, Stephen, 1988. "Recruitment Methods and Vacancy Duration," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 35(1), pages 51-64, February.
  26. Adriana D. Kugler, 1997. "Employee referrals and the inter-industry wage structure," Economics Working Papers 252, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  27. Bull, Clive & Ornati, Oscar & Tedeschi, Piero, 1987. "Search, Hiring Strategies, and Labor Market Intermediaries," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(4), pages S1-17, October.
  28. Saloner, Garth, 1985. "Old Boy Networks as Screening Mechanisms," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 255-67, July.
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