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Do Informal Referrals Lead to Better Matches? Evidence from a Firm's Employee Referral System

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  • Meta Brown
  • Elizabeth Setren
  • Giorgio Topa

Abstract

Using a new firm-level data set that includes explicit information on referrals by current employees, we investigate the hiring process and the relationships among referrals, match quality, wage trajectories, and turnover for a single US corporation and test various predictions of theoretical models of labor market referrals. We find that referred candidates are more likely to be hired; experience an initial wage advantage, which dissipates over time; and have longer tenure in the firm. Further, the variances of the referred and nonreferred wage distributions converge over time. The observed referral effects appear to be stronger at lower skill levels. The data also permit analysis of the role of referrer-referee pair characteristics.

Suggested Citation

  • Meta Brown & Elizabeth Setren & Giorgio Topa, 2016. "Do Informal Referrals Lead to Better Matches? Evidence from a Firm's Employee Referral System," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 161-209.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:doi:10.1086/682338
    DOI: 10.1086/682338
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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