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Information channels in labor markets: On the resilience of referral hiring

  • Alessandra Casella

    ()

    (Columbia University - Department of Economics)

  • Nobuyuki Hanaki

    ()

    (University of Tsukuba - Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences)

Economists and sociologists disagree over markets' potential to assume functions typically performed by networks of personal connections, first among them the transmission of information. This paper begins from a model of labor markets where social ties are stronger between similar individuals and firms employing productive workers prefer to rely on personal referrals than to hire on the anonymous market (Montgomery (1991)). However, we allow workers in the market to engage in a costly action that can signal their high productivity, and ask whether the possibility of signaling reduces the reliance on the network. We find that the network is remarkably resilient. To be effective signaling must fulfill two contradictory requirements: unless the signal is extremely precise, it must be expensive or it is not informative; but it must be cheap, or the network can undercut it.

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Paper provided by Columbia University, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 0506-05.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:clu:wpaper:0506-05
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  1. Harry J. Holzer, 1986. "Search Method Use by Unemployed Youth," NBER Working Papers 1859, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kranton, Rachel E, 1996. "Reciprocal Exchange: A Self-Sustaining System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 830-51, September.
  3. Matt Jackson, 2003. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," Theory workshop papers 658612000000000032, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. Michele Pellizzari, 2004. "Do Friends and Relatives Really Help in Getting a Good Job?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0623, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  5. Luigi Pistaferri, 1999. "Informal Networks in the Italian Labor Market," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 58(3-4), pages 355-375, December.
  6. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-48, June.
  7. Bentolila, Samuel & Michelacci, Claudio & Suarez, Javier, 2004. "Social Contacts and Occupational Choice," CEPR Discussion Papers 4308, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Saloner, Garth, 1985. "Old Boy Networks as Screening Mechanisms," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 255-67, July.
  9. Yannis M. Ioannides & Linda Datcher Loury, 2002. "Job Information Networks, Neighborhood Effects and Inequality," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0217, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  10. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
  11. Montgomery, James D, 1991. "Social Networks and Labor-Market Outcomes: Toward an Economic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1407-18, December.
  12. Mortensen, D. T. & Vishwanath, T., 1995. "Personal contacts and earnings: It is who you know!," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 103-104, March.
  13. Tassier, Troy & Menczer, Filippo, 2008. "Social network structure, segregation, and equality in a labor market with referral hiring," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 66(3-4), pages 514-528, June.
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