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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. Michele Pellizzari, 2004. "Do friends and relatives really help in getting a good job?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19980, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Laura Giuliano & David I. Levine & Jonathan Leonard, 2009. "Manager Race and the Race of New Hires," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(4), pages 589-631, October.
  3. Holzer, Harry J, 1987. "Informal Job Search and Black Youth Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 446-52, June.
  4. 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.
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  9. 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.
  10. Topa, Giorgio, 1997. "Social Interactions, Local Spillovers and Unemployment," Working Papers 97-17, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  11. Patrick Bayer & Stephen Ross & Giorgio Topa, 2005. "Place of Work and Place of Residence: Informal Hiring Networks and Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 11019, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  13. 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 306-30, July.
  14. Penn State & Manolis Galenianos, 2008. "Hiring through Referrals," 2008 Meeting Papers 672, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  15. 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.
  16. Olof Aslund & Oskar Nordström Skans, 2010. "Will I See You at Work? Ethnic Workplace Segregation in Sweden, 1985-2002," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 63(3), pages 471-493, April.
  17. Manishi Prasad & Peter Wahlqvist & Rich Shikiar & Ya-Chen Tina Shih, 2004. "A," PharmacoEconomics, Springer Healthcare | Adis, vol. 22(4), pages 225-244.
  18. Hellerstein, Judith K. & McInerney, Melissa & Neumark, David, 2008. "Measuring the Importance of Labor Market Networks," IZA Discussion Papers 3750, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  19. 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.
  20. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1984. "Matching, Turnover, and Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 108-22, February.
  21. 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.
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