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Firm Entry and Wages: Impact of Wal-Mart Growth on Earnings Throughout the Retail Sector


  • Dube, Arindrajit
  • Lester, T. William
  • Eidlin, Barry


This paper estimates the effect of Wal-Mart expansion on wages, benefits, and skill-composition of retail workers during the 1990s. We exploit the spatial pattern of Wal-Mart diffusion, radiating outward from the original store in Benton county, Arkansas, to control for potential endogeneity in store openings using both instrumental variable and control function approaches. Estimates from state and county level data suggest that store openings reduced both the average earnings and health benefits of retail workers. At the county level, a new Wal-Mart is found to reduce retail earnings, on average, by .5 to .9 percent. Moreover, we find that changes in skill-composition explain only a small part of compensation reduction, indicating that the decline in retail wages reflect a reduction in labor market rents.

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  • Dube, Arindrajit & Lester, T. William & Eidlin, Barry, 2007. "Firm Entry and Wages: Impact of Wal-Mart Growth on Earnings Throughout the Retail Sector," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt22s5k4pv, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:indrel:qt22s5k4pv

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Neumark, David & Zhang, Junfu & Ciccarella, Stephen, 2008. "The effects of Wal-Mart on local labor markets," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 405-430, March.
    2. Emek Basker, 2005. "Job Creation or Destruction? Labor Market Effects of Wal-Mart Expansion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 174-183, February.
    3. Michael J. Hicks & Kristy Wilburn, 2005. "The Locational Impact of Wal-Mart Entrance: A Panel Study of the Retail Trade Sector in West Virginia," Urban/Regional 0511011, EconWPA.
    4. Garen, John, 1984. "The Returns to Schooling: A Selectivity Bias Approach with a Continuous Choice Variable," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(5), pages 1199-1218, September.
    5. Basker, Emek, 2011. "The Causes and Consequences of Wal-Mart’s Growth," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 5, pages 110-134.
    6. Stephan J. Goetz & Hema Swaminathan, 2006. "Wal-Mart and County-Wide Poverty," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 87(2), pages 211-226.
    7. Elizabeth Davis & Matthew Freedman & Julia Lane & Brian McCall & Nicole Nestoriak & Timothy Park, "undated". "Product Market Competition and Human Resource Practices: An Analysis of the Retail Food Sector," Working Papers 0905, Human Resources and Labor Studies, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities Campus).
    8. Fredrik Andersson & Harry J. Holzer & Julia I. Lane, 2002. "The interactions of workers and firms in the low-wage labor market," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-12, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    9. Hicks, Michael J. & Wilburn, Kristy L., 2001. "The Regional Impact of Wal-Mart Entrance: A Panel Study of the Retail Trade Sector in West Virginia," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 31(3), pages 305-313, Winter.
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    Cited by:

    1. P. J. Glandon & Matthew Jaremski, 2014. "Sales and Firm Entry: The Case of Wal-Mart," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 168-192, July.
    2. Bonanno, Alessandro & Lopez, Rigoberto, 2008. "Wal-Mart’s Monopsony Power in Local Labor Markets," Research Reports 149210, University of Connecticut, Food Marketing Policy Center.
    3. Charles Courtemanche & Art Carden, 2014. "Competing with Costco and Sam's Club: Warehouse Club Entry and Grocery Prices," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 565-585, January.
    4. Artz, Georgeanne M. & Stone, Kenneth E., 2012. "Revisiting Wal-Mart's Impact on Iowa Small Town Retail: Twenty-Five Years Later," Staff General Research Papers Archive 37646, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    5. Art Carden & Charles Courtemanche & Jeremy Meiners, 2009. "Does Wal-Mart reduce social capital?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 138(1), pages 109-136, January.
    6. Bonanno, Alessandro & Lopez, Rigoberto A., 2009. "Is Wal-Mart a Monopsony? Evidence from Local Labor Markets," 2009 Conference, August 16-22, 2009, Beijing, China 51289, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    7. Courtemanche, Charles & Carden, Art, 2011. "Supersizing supercenters? The impact of Walmart Supercenters on body mass index and obesity," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 165-181, March.
    8. Stapp, Jacob, 2014. "The Walmart Effect: Labor Market Implications in Rural and Urban Counties," SS-AAEA Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    9. Courtemanche, Charles & Carden, Art, 2009. "The skinny on big box retailing: Wal-Mart, warehouse clubs, and obesity," MPRA Paper 25326, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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