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Heterogeneity, Selection and Labor Market Disparities

  • Alessandra Bonfiglioli
  • Gino Gancia

We study the incentives to acquire skill in a model where heterogeneous firms and workers interact in a labor market characterized by matching frictions and costly screening. When effort in acquiring skill raises both the mean and the variance of the resulting ability distribution, multiple equilibria may arise. In the high-effort equilibrium, heterogeneity in ability is sufficiently large to induce firms to select the best workers, thereby confirming the belief that effort is important for finding good jobs. In the low-effort equilibrium, ability is not sufficiently dispersed to justify screening, thereby confirming the belief that effort is not so important. The model has implications for wage inequality, the distribution of firm characteristics, sorting patterns between firms and workers, and unemployment rates that can help explaining observed cross-country variation in socio-economic and labor market outcomes.

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Paper provided by Barcelona Graduate School of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 734.

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Date of creation: Apr 2014
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Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:734
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  1. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2004. "Export Versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 300-316, March.
  2. Giorgina Brown & John Micklewright & Sylke V. Schnepf & Robert Waldmann, 2007. "International surveys of educational achievement: how robust are the findings?," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 170(3), pages 623-646.
  3. Helpman, Elhanan & Itskhoki, Oleg & Redding, Stephen J., 2009. "Inequality and Unemployment in a Global Economy," CEPR Discussion Papers 7353, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Alessandra Bonfiglioli & Gino Gancia, 2011. "Growth, Selection and Appropriate Contracts," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 876.11, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC), revised 05 Oct 2012.
  5. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-50, September.
  6. Hassler, John & Mora, Jose & Storesletten, Kjetil & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2002. "A positive theory of geographical mobility and social insurance," Seminar Papers 705, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  7. Hanming Fang & Andrea Moro, 2010. "Theories of Statistical Discrimination and Affirmative Action: A Survey," NBER Working Papers 15860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Acemoglu, Daron, 1995. "Reward structures and the allocation of talent," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 17-33, January.
  9. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki & Stephen Redding, 2008. "Wages, Unemployment and Inequality with Heterogeneous Firms and Workers," NBER Working Papers 14122, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Piketty, Thomas, 1998. "Self-fulfilling beliefs about social status," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 115-132, October.
  11. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri & Luigi Pistaferri & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "Cross Sectional Facts for Macroeconomists," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(1), pages 1-14, January.
  12. Kenneth R. Troske, 1998. "Evidence on the Employer Size-Wage Premium From Worker-Establishment Matched Data," Labor and Demography 9807001, EconWPA.
  13. repec:dgr:uvatin:20100042 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1994. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 397-415, July.
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