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Imperfect information, wage formation, and the employability of the unemployed

This paper considers the optimal hiring strategy of a firm that is unable to observe the productive abilities of all its applicants. Whom the firm considers as hireable, will depend crucially on the extent to which the firm can use its wage setting to mirror productivity differences. However, when setting its wages the firm has to consider other factors as well, e.g. turnover, that may make it optimal not to set wages that fully reflect productivity differences. Instead, it may be optimal to avoid hiring workers that have certain characteristics; i.e. to use a discriminatory hiring strategy. In the paper it is shown that discrimination based on employment status is an equilibrium hiring strategy even when the firm is free to set different wages for workers with different expected productivities. It is also shown that if all firms use such hiring procedures this will have strong implications for the aggregate economy and welfare.

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Paper provided by IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy in its series Working Paper Series with number 2002:17.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: 28 Oct 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2002_017
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  1. Fredriksson, Peter & Holmlund, Bertil, 1998. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance in Search Equilibrium," Working Paper Series 1998:2, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  2. Jonas Agell & Per Lundborg, . "Survey evidence on wage rigidity and unemployment: Sweden in the 1990s," EPRU Working Paper Series 99-15, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  3. Gottfries, Nils & Sjöström, Tomas, 1998. "Insider Bargaining Power, Starting Wages, and Involuntary Unemployment," Working Paper Series 1998:10, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  4. Barron, John M & Berger, Mark C & Black, Dan A, 1997. "Employer Search, Training, and Vacancy Duration," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(1), pages 167-92, January.
  5. Robert Gibbons & Lawrence Katz, 1989. "Layoffs and Lemons," Working Papers 629, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  6. Stefan Eriksson, 2006. "Skill Loss, Ranking of Job Applicants and the Dynamics of Unemployment," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 7, pages 265-296, 08.
  7. Kugler, Adriana D. & Saint-Paul, Gilles, 2000. "Hiring And Firing Costs, Adverse Selection And The Persistence Of Unemployment," CEPR Discussion Papers 2410, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Blau, David M & Robins, Philip K, 1990. "Job Search Outcomes for the Employed and Unemployed," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 637-55, June.
  9. Michael Sattinger, 1993. "Statistical Discrimination with Employment Criteria," Discussion Papers 93-01, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  10. Summers, Lawrence H. & Dickens, William T. & Katz, Lawrence F. & Lang, Kevin, 1989. "Employee Crime and the Monitoring Puzzle," Scholarly Articles 3645199, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. George A. Akerlof & Andrew K. Rose & Janet L. Yellen, 1988. "Job Switching and Job Satisfaction in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(2), pages 495-594.
  12. Eriksson, Stefan & Gottfries, Nils, 2000. "Ranking of job applicants, on-the-job search, and persistent unemployment," Working Paper Series 2000:8, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  13. Boeri, Tito, 1999. "Enforcement of employment security regulations, on-the-job search and unemployment duration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 65-89, January.
  14. Pissarides, C. & Wadsworth, J., 1988. "On-The-Job Search: Some Empirical Evidence," Papers 317, London School of Economics - Centre for Labour Economics.
  15. John G. Riley, 2001. "Silver Signals: Twenty-Five Years of Screening and Signaling," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(2), pages 432-478, June.
  16. Barron, John M & Bishop, John, 1985. "Extensive Search, Intensive Search, and Hiring Costs: New Evidence on Employer Hiring Activity," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 23(3), pages 363-82, July.
  17. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1989. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 447-80, March.
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