Wage Dispersion, Compensation Policy and the Role of Firms
Empirical work in economics stresses the importance of unobserved firm- and person-level characteristics in the determination of wages, finding that these unobserved components account for the overwhelming majority of variation in wages. However, little is known about the mechanisms sustaining these wage di¤er- entials. This paper attempts to demystify the firm-side of the puzzle by developing a statistical model that enriches the role that firms play in wage determination, allowing firms to influence both average wages as well as the returns to observable worker characteristics. I exploit the hierarchical nature of a unique employer-employee linked dataset for the United States, estimating a multilevel statistical model of earnings that accounts for firm-specific deviations in average wages as well as the returns to components of human capital - race, gender, education, and experience - while also controlling for person-level heterogeneity in earnings. These idiosyncratic prices reflect one aspect of firm compensation policy; another, and more novel aspect, is the unstructured characterization of the covariance of these prices across firms. I estimate the model's variance parameters using Restricted (or Residual) Maximum Likelihood tech- niques. Results suggest that there is significant variation in the returns to worker characteristics across firms. First, estimates of the parameters of the covariance matrix of firm-specific returns are statistically significant. Firms that tend to pay higher average wages also tend to pay higher than average returns to worker characteristics; firms that tend to reward highly the human capital of men also highly reward the human capital of women. For instance, the correlation between the firm-specific returns to education for men and women is 0.57. Second, the firm-specific returns account for roughly 9% of the variation in wages - approximately 50% of the variation in wages explained by firm-specific intercepts alone. The inclusion of firm-specific returns ties variation in wages, otherwise attributable to firm-specific intercepts, to observable components of human capital.
|Date of creation:||Nov 2005|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: 4600 Silver Hill Road, Washington, DC 20233|
Phone: (301) 763-6460
Fax: (301) 763-5935
Web page: http://lehd.did.census.gov/led/
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Edward P. Lazear, 2003. "Firm-Specific Human Capital: A Skill-Weights Approach," NBER Working Papers 9679, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Abowd, J.M. & Kramarz, F. & Margolis, D.N., 1995.
"High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms,"
Cahiers de recherche
9503, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
- John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1994. "High Wage Workers and High Wage Firms," NBER Working Papers 4917, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David Margolis, 1999. "High Wage Workers and High Wage Firms," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00353892, HAL.
- John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1994. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," CIRANO Working Papers 94s-23, CIRANO.
- David Margolis, 1995. "High Wage Workers and High Wage Firms," Post-Print halshs-00378229, HAL.
- Abowd, J.M. & Kramarz, F. & Margolis, D.N., 1995. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," Cahiers de recherche 9503, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
- Charles Brown & James L. Medoff, 1989.
"The Employer Size-Wage Effect,"
NBER Working Papers
2870, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- John M. Abowd & Bryce E. Stephens & Lars Vilhuber & Fredrik Andersson & Kevin L. McKinney & Marc Roemer & Simon Woodcock, 2002.
"The LEHD Infrastructure Files and the Creation of the Quarterly Workforce Indicators,"
Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers
2002-05, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
- John M. Abowd & Bryce E. Stephens & Lars Vilhuber & Fredrik Andersson & Kevin L. McKinney & Marc Roemer & Simon Woodcock, 2009. "The LEHD Infrastructure Files and the Creation of the Quarterly Workforce Indicators," NBER Chapters, in: Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data, pages 149-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- John Abowd & Bryce Stephens & Lars Vilhuber, 2006. "The LEHD Infrastructure Files and the Creation of the Quarterly Workforce Indicators," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2006-01, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
- Casey Ichniowski & Kathryn Shaw, 2003. "Beyond Incentive Pay: Insiders' Estimates of the Value of Complementary Human Resource Management Practices," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 155-180, Winter.
- Peter Cappelli & David Neumark, 2001. "Do â€œHigh-Performanceâ€ Work Practices Improve Establishment-Level Outcomes?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(4), pages 737-775, July.
- Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
- Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 1996.
"Employer Size and the Wage Structure in U.S. Manufacturing,"
Annals of Economics and Statistics,
GENES, issue 41-42, pages 323-367.
- Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 1995. "Employer Size and The Wage Structure in U.S. Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 5393, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Erica L. Groshen, 1991. "Sources of Intra-Industry Wage Dispersion: How Much Do Employers Matter?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(3), pages 869-884.
- Bronars, Stephen G & Famulari, Melissa, 1997. "Wage, Tenure, and Wage Growth Variation within and across Establishment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 285-317, April.
- A. R. Cardoso, 2000. "Wage differentials across firms: an application of multilevel modelling," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(4), pages 343-354.
- Lazear, Edward P, 2000. "The Future of Personnel Economics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(467), pages F611-39, November.
- George Baker & Michael Gibbs & Bengt Holmstrom, 1994. "The Wage Policy of a Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 921-955.
- Erica Groshen & David Levine, 1998. "The rise and decline(?) of U.S. internal labor markets," Research Paper 9819, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
- Ana Rute Cardoso, 1999. "Firms' Wage Policies and the Rise in Labor Market Inequality: The Case of Portugal," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 53(1), pages 87-102, October.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cen:tpaper:2005-04. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Erika McEntarfer)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.