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Evidence on the Employer Size-Wage Premium From Worker-Establishment Matched Data

Listed author(s):
  • Kenneth R Troske

In spite of the large and growing importance of the employer size-wage premium, previous attempts to account for this phenomenon using observable worker or employer characteristics have met with limited success. The primary reason for this lack of success has been the lack of suitable data. While most theoretical explanations for the size-wage premium are based on the matching of employer and employee characteristics, previous empirical work has relied on either worker surveys with little information about a worker's employer, or establishment surveys with little information about workers. In contrast, this study uses the newly created Worker-Establishment Characteristic Database, which contains linked employer-employee data for a large sample of manufacturing workers and establishments, to examine the employer size-wage premium. The main results are: 1) Examining the cross-plant distribution of the skill of workers shows that managers with larger observable measures of skill work in large plants and firms with production workers with larger observable measures of skill. 2) Results from reduced form wage regressions show that including measures of the amount or type of capital in a worker's plant eliminates the establishment size-wage premium. 3) These results are robust to efforts at correcting for possible bias in the parameter estimates due to sample selection. While these findings are consistent with neoclassical explanations for the size-wage premium that hypothesize that large employers employ more skilled workers, their primary importance is that they show that the employer size-wage premium can be accounted for with employer-employee matched data. As such, these data lend support to models which emphasize the role of employer-employee matching in accounting for both cross-sectional and dynamic aspects of the wage distribution.

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Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 94-10.

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Date of creation: Aug 1994
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:94-10
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  1. Kenneth R Troske & William J Carrington, 1992. "Gender Segregation Small Firms," Working Papers 92-13, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau, revised May 1993.
  2. Walter Oi, 1983. "The Fixed Employment Costs of Specialized Labor," NBER Chapters,in: The Measurement of Labor Cost, pages 63-122 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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