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Equilibrium Wage Dispersion with Worker and Employer Heterogeneity

  • Postel-Vinay, Fabien
  • Robin, Jean-Marc

We construct and estimate an equilibrium search model with on-the-job-search. Firms make take-it-or-leave-it wage offers to workers conditional on their characteristics and they can respond to the outside job offers received by their employees. Unobserved worker productive heterogeneity is introduced in the form of cross-worker differences in a ‘competence’ parameter. On the other side of the market, firms also are heterogeneous with respect to their marginal productivity of labor. The model delivers a theory of steady-state wage dispersion driven by heterogenous worker abilities and firm productivities, as well as by matching frictions. The structural model is estimated using matched employer and employee French panel data. The exogenous distributions of worker and firm heterogeneity components are non-parametrically estimated. We use this structural estimation to provide a decomposition of cross-employee wage variance. We find that the share of the cross-sectional wage variance that is explained by person effects varies across skill groups. Specifically, this share lies close to 40% for high-skilled white collars, and quickly decreases to 0% as the observed skill level decreases. The contribution of market imperfections to wage dispersion is typically around 50%.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3548.

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Date of creation: Sep 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3548
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  1. Jean-Marc Robin & Sébastien Roux_, 1998. "Random or Balanced Matching : An Equilibrium Search Model with Endogenous Capital and Two-Sided Search," Working Papers 98-38, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  2. Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2002. "The Distribution of Earnings in an Equilibrium Search Model with State-Dependent Offers and Counteroffers," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00357753, HAL.
  3. Acemoglu, D. & Shimer, R., 1997. "Efficient Wage Dispersion," Working papers 97-7, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Gerard J. van den Berg & Geert Ridder, 1998. "An Empirical Equilibrium Search Model of the Labor Market," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(5), pages 1183-1222, September.
  5. repec:oup:restud:v:54:y:1987:i:2:p:243-55 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2002. "Equilibrium Wage Dispersion with Worker and Employer Heterogeneity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2295-2350, November.
  7. Mortensen, D.T., 1998. "Equilibrium Unemployment with Wage Posting: Burdett-Mortensen Meet Pissarides," Papers 98-14, Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, Danmark-.
  8. Burdett, Kenneth & Mortensen, Dale T, 1998. "Wage Differentials, Employer Size, and Unemployment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(2), pages 257-73, May.
  9. 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.
  10. Kenneth Burdett & Randall Wright, 1994. "Two-sided search," Staff Report 169, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  11. Mortensen, Dale T. & Vishwanath, Tara, 1994. "Personal contacts and earnings : It is who you know!," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 187-201, March.
  12. repec:oup:restud:v:61:y:1994:i:3:p:397-415 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher, 1999. "New Developments in Models of Search in the Labour Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 2053, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Burdett, Kenneth & Judd, Kenneth L, 1983. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 955-69, July.
  15. Christian Bontemps & Jean-Marc Robin & Gérard J. Van den Berg, 1999. "An Empirical Equilibrium Job Search Model With Search on the Job and Heterogeneous Workers and Firms," Post-Print hal-00357757, HAL.
  16. Dale T. Mortensen, 2000. "Modeling Matched Job-Worker Flows," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1493, Econometric Society.
  17. repec:adr:anecst:y:2002:i:67-68:p:11 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Bontemps, Christian & Robin, Jean-Marc & van den Berg, Gerard J, 2000. "Equilibrium Search with Continuous Productivity Dispersion: Theory and Nonparametric Estimation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 41(2), pages 305-58, May.
  19. repec:oup:restud:v:68:y:2001:i:3:p:593-612 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Burdett, Kenneth & Vishwanath, Tara, 1988. "Balanced Matching and Labor Market Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 1048-65, October.
  21. Albrecht, James & Axell, Bo, 1983. "An Equilibrium Model of Search Unemployment," Working Papers 83-10, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  22. Heckman, James J & Sedlacek, Guilherme, 1985. "Heterogeneity, Aggregation, and Market Wage Functions: An Empirical Model of Self-selection in the Labor Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1077-1125, December.
  23. Matthew S. Dey & Christopher J. Flinn, 2005. "An Equilibrium Model of Health Insurance Provision and Wage Determination," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 571-627, 03.
  24. Topel, Robert H, 1991. "Specific Capital, Mobility, and Wages: Wages Rise with Job Seniority," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 145-76, February.
  25. Heckman, James J & Honore, Bo E, 1990. "The Empirical Content of the Roy Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(5), pages 1121-49, September.
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