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Information Channels in Labour Markets. On the Resilience of Referral Hiring

  • Casella, Alessandra
  • Hanaki, Nobuyuki

Economists and sociologists disagree over markets’ potential to take over functions typically performed by networks of personal connections. First among them is the reliable transmission of information. In this paper we begin from a model of labour markets where social ties are stronger between similar individuals, and thus firms employing productive workers prefer to rely on personal referrals by their employees than to hire on the open anonymous market (Montgomery (1991)). However, we allow workers in the anonymous market to engage in a costly action that has the potential to signal their high productivity. We study the extent to which the possibility of signalling reduces the reliance on the network. We find that the network is remarkably resilient - only for a small minority of parameter values does the network disappear. The problem is that to be effective signalling 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 C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4969.

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Date of creation: Mar 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4969
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  1. Michele Pellizzari, 2004. "Do Friends and Relatives Really Help in Getting a Good Job?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0623, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Antoni Calvó-Armengol & Matthew O. Jackson, 2004. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 426-454, June.
  3. 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.
  4. Holzer, Harry J, 1988. "Search Method Use by Unemployed Youth," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(1), pages 1-20, January.
  5. Saloner, Garth, 1985. "Old Boy Networks as Screening Mechanisms," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 255-67, July.
  6. Kranton, Rachel E, 1996. "Reciprocal Exchange: A Self-Sustaining System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 830-51, September.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Javier Suarez & Samuel Bentolila & Claudio Michelacci, 2004. "Social Contacts and Occupational Choice," 2004 Meeting Papers 593, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  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. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
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