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Do informal referrals lead to better matches? Evidence from a firm's employee referral system

  • Meta Brown
  • Elizabeth Setren
  • Giorgio Topa

The limited nature of data on employment referrals in large business and household surveys has so far impeded our efforts to understand the relationships among employment referrals, match quality, wage trajectories, and turnover. Using a new firm-level data set that includes explicit information on whether a worker at the company was referred by a current employee, we are able to provide rich detail on these empirical relationships for a single U.S. corporation and to test various predictions of theoretical models of labor market referrals. Our results align with the following predictions: 1) referred candidates are more likely to be hired, 2) referred workers experience an initial wage advantage, 3) the wage advantage dissipates over time, 4) referred workers have longer tenure in the firm, and 5) the variances of the referred and nonreferred wage distributions converge over time. The richness of the data allows us to analyze the role of referrer-referee relationships, and the size and diversity of the corporation permit analysis of referrals at a wide variety of skill and experience levels.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 568.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:568
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  1. Datcher, Linda, 1983. "The Impact of Informal Networks of Quit Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(3), pages 491-95, August.
  2. Giuliano, Laura & Levine, David I. & Leonard, Jonathan, 2006. "Manager Race and the Race of New Hires," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt2cb2q1h1, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  3. Manolis Galenianos, 2013. "Learning About Match Quality and the Use of Referrals," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(4), pages 668-690, October.
  4. Meyer, Bruce D, 1990. "Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Spells," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(4), pages 757-82, July.
  5. Topa, Giorgio, 1997. "Social Interactions, Local Spillovers and Unemployment," Working Papers 97-17, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  6. Michele Pellizzari, 2010. "Do Friends and Relatives Really Help in Getting a Good Job?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 63(3), pages 494-510, April.
  7. Patrick Bayer & Stephen L. Ross, 2004. "Place of Work and Place of Residence: Informal Hiring Networks and Labor Market Outcomes," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 495, Econometric Society.
  8. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-90, October.
  9. Linda Datcher Loury, 2006. "Some Contacts Are More Equal than Others: Informal Networks, Job Tenure, and Wages," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 299-318, April.
  10. repec:spr:pharme:v:22:y:2004:i:4:p:225-244 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Yannis M. Ioannides & Linda Datcher Loury, 2004. "Job Information Networks, Neighborhood Effects, and Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1056-1093, December.
  12. Frederiksen, Anders & Lange, Fabian & Kriechel, Ben, 2012. "Subjective Performance Evaluations and Employee Careers," IZA Discussion Papers 6373, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Lori Beaman & Jeremy Magruder, 2012. "Who Gets the Job Referral? Evidence from a Social Networks Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3574-93, December.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Olof Åslund & Oskar Nordström Skans, 2010. "Will I See You at Work? Ethnic Workplace Segregation in Sweden, 1985–2002," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 63(3), pages 471-493, April.
  17. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1984. "Matching, Turnover, and Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 108-22, February.
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