How Much Do Employers Learn from Referrals?
This paper tests the hypothesis that referrals from various sources provide employers with more information about job applicants than they would have without a referral. I use data from the 1982 EOPP Survey of employers that contain information on two workers in the same job, allowing me to cancel out differences in job and firm characteristics and control for the possibility that workers with referrals from different sources (or no referral at all) might sort into jobs that put different weights on individual performance. My estimation results provide evidence consistent with referrals from friends and family members providing employers with more information than they would have otherwise. Despite the information they provide, however, it appears as though referrals from family members are associated with jobs that put less weight on performance overall. On the other hand, referrals from other employers or labor unions appear to provide little, if any, information but are associated with jobs that put more weight on performance than the average job does. I find no evidence that referrals from schools, community organizations or other sources provide useful information.
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