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Employer size-wage effects: evidence from matched employer-employee survey data in the UK


  • Clive Belfield
  • Xiangdong Wei


This paper employs a random sample of matched employer-employee data from the UK to test seven possible explanations for the positive relationship between employer size and pay. Individual wage equations show a large employer size-wage premium. We then control for a range of establishment-level variables, based on seven hypotheses typically advanced to explain this premium. Each establishment-level factor reduces the wage premium, but a sizeable premium nonetheless remains. In adjudicating on these hypotheses, we find a strong association between the internal labour market and the employer size-wage premium. This finding supports the theory that the employer size-wage effect may be due to the higher costs of turnover or monitoring in larger firms. However, we find contrasting effects for public versus private sector establishments.

Suggested Citation

  • Clive Belfield & Xiangdong Wei, 2004. "Employer size-wage effects: evidence from matched employer-employee survey data in the UK," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(3), pages 185-193.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:36:y:2004:i:3:p:185-193
    DOI: 10.1080/0003684042000175316

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kelly D. Edmiston, 2007. "The role of small and large businesses in economic development," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q II, pages 73-97.
    2. John S. Heywood & Nikolaos Theodoropoulos, 2016. "Employer Size Effects for Workers vs. Supervisors: British Survey Data," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 07-2016, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.
    3. Dimitris Pavlopoulos & Didier Fouarge, 2010. "Escaping low pay: do male labour market entrants stand a chance?," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 31(8), pages 908-927, November.
    4. Green, Colin & Heywood, John S. & Theodoropoulos, Nikolaos, 2017. "Employer Size and Supervisor Earnings: Evidence from Britain," GLO Discussion Paper Series 136, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    5. Wenshu Gao & Russell Smyth, 2011. "Firm size and wages in China," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(4), pages 353-357.
    6. Giulio Bottazzi & Marco Grazzi, 2014. "Dynamics Of Productivity And Cost Of Labour In Italian Manufacturing Firms," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(S1), pages 55-73, December.
    7. Beatriz Muriel Hernández, 2016. "An Analysis of Firm Characteristics as Earnings Determinants: The Urban Bolivia Case," Development Research Working Paper Series 04/2016, Institute for Advanced Development Studies.
    8. Sebastien Valeyre & Denis Grebenkov & Sofiane Aboura & Francois Bonnin, 2016. "Should employers pay their employees better? An asset pricing approach," Papers 1602.00931,, revised Oct 2016.
    9. Haroon Bhorat & Morné Oosthuizen & Kezia Lilenstein & François Steenkamp, 2017. "Firm-level determinants of earnings in the formal sector of the South African labour market," WIDER Working Paper Series 025, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    10. H. Y. Sun, 2014. "Longitudinal Evidence of Firm Size Effect on Wage Premium and Wage Differential in Korean Labor Market," International Journal of Economic Sciences, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2014(3), pages 66-85.
    11. C. J. Krizan & Adela Luque & Alice Zawacki, 2014. "The Effect Of Employer Health Insurance Offering On The Growth And Survival Of Small Business Prior To The Affordable Care Act," Working Papers 14-22, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    12. Bayo-Moriones, Alberto & Galdon-Sanchez, Jose Enrique & Martinez-de-Morentin, Sara, 2008. "What Are the Factors Behind Pay Settlements? Evidence from Spanish and British Data," IZA Discussion Papers 3401, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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