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Limited network connections and the distribution of wages

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  • Kenneth J. Arrow
  • Ron Borzekowski

Abstract

It is well-known that 50% or more of all jobs are obtained through informal channels i.e. connections to family or friends. As well, statistical studies show that observable individual factors account for only about 50% of the very wide variation in earnings. We seek to explain these two facts by assuming that the linking of workers and firms is mediated by limited network connections. The model implies that essentially similar workers can have markedly different wages and further that the inequality of wages is partly explained by variations in the sizes of workers' networks. Our results indicate that differences in the number of ties can induce substantial inequality and can explain roughly 15% of the unexplained variation in wages. We also show that reasonable differences in the average number of links between blacks and whites can explain the disparity in black and white income distributions.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth J. Arrow & Ron Borzekowski, 2004. "Limited network connections and the distribution of wages," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-41, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2004-41
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Datcher, Linda, 1983. "The Impact of Informal Networks of Quit Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(3), pages 491-495, August.
    6. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1998. "What Has Economics to Say about Racial Discrimination?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 91-100, Spring.
    7. Simon, Curtis J & Warner, John T, 1992. "Matchmaker, Matchmaker: The Effect of Old Boy Networks on Job Match Quality, Earnings, and Tenure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(3), pages 306-330, July.
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    9. Brian Krauth, 1998. "A Dynamic Model of Job Networks and Persistent Inequality," Research in Economics 98-06-049e, Santa Fe Institute.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Szulkin, Ryszard & Hällsten, Martin, 2009. "Families, neighborhoods, and the future: The transition to adulthood of children of native and immigrant origin in Sweden," SULCIS Working Papers 2009:9, Stockholm University, Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS.
    2. Fabio David Nieto, 2016. "Discriminación y diferenciales de salarios en el mercado laboral," Revista de Economía Institucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia - Facultad de Economía, vol. 18(34), pages 115-134, January-J.
    3. Berardi, Nicoletta & Seabright, Paul, 2011. "Professional Network and Career Coevolution," CEPR Discussion Papers 8632, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Andrea Galeotti & Luca Paolo Merlino, 2014. "Endogenous Job Contact Networks," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 55, pages 1201-1226, November.
    5. Matthew O. Jackson, 2003. "A survey of models of network formation: Stability and efficiency," Working Papers 1161, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
    6. Yannis M. Ioannides & Adriaan R. Soetevent, 2006. "Wages and Employment in a Random Social Network with Arbitrary Degree Distribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 270-274.
    7. Buhai, Sebastian & van der Leij, Marco, 2006. "A Social Network Analysis of Occupational Segregation," Working Papers 06-11, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
    8. Yang, J.-H. Steffi, 2009. "Social network influence and market instability," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3-4), pages 257-276, March.
    9. 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.
    10. Federico Cingano & Alfonso Rosolia, 2006. "People I Know: Workplace Networks and Job Search Outcomes," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 600, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    11. Jackson, Matthew O. & Calvo, Antoni, 2002. "Social Networks in Determing Employment and Wages: Patterns, Dynamics, and Inequality," Working Papers 1149, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
    12. Burns, Justine & Godlonton, Susan & Keswell, Malcolm, 2010. "Social networks, employment and worker discouragement: Evidence from South Africa," Labour Economics, Elsevier, pages 336-344.
    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.
    14. Matthew O. Jackson, 2002. "The Stability and Efficiency of Economic and Social Networks," Microeconomics 0211011, EconWPA.
    15. Evgeniya Polyakova & Larisa Smirnykh, 2015. "The Impact of Sectoral Segregation on the Earning Differential between Natives and Immigrants in Russia," HSE Working papers WP BRP 110/EC/2015, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    16. Ilse Lindenlaub & Anja Prummer, 2016. "Gender, Social Networks and Peformance," Working Papers 807, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
    17. Ilse Lindenlaub & Anja Prummer, 2014. "Gender, Social Networks And Performance," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1461, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    18. Kan, Kamhon, 2007. "Residential mobility and social capital," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 436-457, May.

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    Keywords

    Wages ; Labor market;

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