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

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Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Eriksson, Stefan, 2002. "Imperfect information, wage formation, and the employability of the unemployed," Working Paper Series 2002:17, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2002_017
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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, August.
    2. Jonas Agell & Per Lundborg, 2003. "Survey Evidence on Wage Rigidity and Unemployment: Sweden in the 1990s," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 105(1), pages 15-30, March.
    3. 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.
    4. Gibbons, Robert & Katz, Lawrence F, 1991. "Layoffs and Lemons," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(4), pages 351-380, October.
    5. Fredriksson, Peter & Holmlund, Bertil, 2001. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance in Search Equilibrium," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 370-399, April.
    6. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1989. "Implicit Contracts, Incentive Compatibility, and Involuntary Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 447-480, March.
    7. 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 363-382, July.
    8. Eriksson, Stefan & Gottfries, Nils, 2005. "Ranking of job applicants, on-the-job search, and persistent unemployment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 407-428, June.
    9. Pissarides, C. & Wadsworth, J., 1988. "On-The-Job Search: Some Empirical Evidence," Papers 317, London School of Economics - Centre for Labour Economics.
    10. Sattinger, Michael, 1998. "Statistical Discrimination with Employment Criteria," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(1), pages 205-237, February.
    11. 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 637-655, June.
    12. 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.
    13. 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 167-192, January.
    14. 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.
    15. Dickens, William T, et al, 1989. "Employee Crime and the Monitoring Puzzle," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(3), pages 331-347, July.
    16. Gottfries, Nils & Sjostrom, Tomas, 2000. " Insider Bargaining Power, Starting Wages and Involuntary Unemployment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(4), pages 669-688, December.
    17. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Stefan Eriksson & Jonas Lagerström, 2006. "Competition between Employed and Unemployed Job Applicants: Swedish Evidence," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 108(3), pages 373-396, October.
    2. Jan Boone & Peter Fredriksson & Bertil Holmlund & Jan C. van Ours, 2007. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance with Monitoring and Sanctions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(518), pages 399-421, March.
    3. 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, August.
    4. Forslund, Anders & Gottfries, Nils & Westermark, Andreas, 2005. "Real and Nominal Wage Adjustment in Open Economies," Working Paper Series 2005:18, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    5. Núria Rodríquez-Planas, 2011. "Displacement, Signaling, and Recall Expectations," Working Papers 550, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    6. Eriksson, Stefan & Gottfries, Nils, 2005. "Ranking of job applicants, on-the-job search, and persistent unemployment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 407-428, June.
    7. Nisar Ahmad, 2014. "State Dependence in Unemployment," International Journal of Economics and Financial Issues, Econjournals, vol. 4(1), pages 93-106.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Hiring; imperfect information; discrimination; employed job seekers; efficiency wages; turnover; unemployment; welfare; policy;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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