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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
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3548
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  1. Moscarini, Giuseppe, 2001. "Excess Worker Reallocation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 593-612, July.
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  10. Kenneth Burdett & Randall Wright, 1994. "Two-sided search," Staff Report 169, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  11. Bontemps, C. & Robin, J.M. & van den Berg, G.J., 1998. "Equilibrium Search with Continuous Productivity Dispersion: Theory and Non-Parametric Estimation," Papers 98-07, Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, Danmark-.
  12. Postel-Vinay, Fabien & Robin, Jean-Marc, 2002. "Equilibrium Wage Dispersion with Worker and Employer Heterogeneity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3548, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. 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.
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  20. Bontemps, Christian & Robin, Jean-Marc & Van den Berg, Gerard J, 1999. "An Empirical Equilibrium Job Search Model with Search on the Job and Heterogeneous Workers and Firms," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1039-74, November.
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  24. Jean-Marc ROBIN & Sébastien ROUX, 2002. "An Equilibrium Model of the Labor Market with Endogenous Capital and Two-Sided Search," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 67-68, pages 257-307.
  25. 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.
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