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Social networks, employee selection and labor market outcomes

Author

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  • Hensvik, Lena

    () (IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy)

  • Nordström Skans, Oskar

    () (IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy)

Abstract

The paper studies how social job finding networks affect firms' selection of employees and the setting of entry wages. Our point of departure is the Montgomery (1991) model of employee referrals which suggests that it is optimal for firms to hire new workers through referrals from their most productive existing employees, as these employees are more likely to know others with high unobserved productivity. Empirically, we identify the networks through coworker links within a rich matched employer-employee data set with cognitive and non-cognitive test scores serving as predetermined indicators of individual productivity. The results corroborate the Montgomery model's key predictions regarding employee selection patterns and entry wages into skill intensive jobs. Incumbent workers of high aptitude are more likely to be linked to entering workers. Firms also acquire entrants with higher ability scores but lower schooling when hiring linked workers supporting the notion that firms use referrals of productive employees in order to attract workers with better qualities in dimensions that would be difficult to observe at the formal market. Furthermore, the abilities of incumbent workers are reflected in the starting wages of linked entrants, suggesting that firms use the ability-density of social networks when setting entry wages. Overall the results suggest that firms use social networks as a signal of worker productivity, and that workers therefore benefit from the quality of their social ties.

Suggested Citation

  • Hensvik, Lena & Nordström Skans, Oskar, 2013. "Social networks, employee selection and labor market outcomes," Working Paper Series 2013:15, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2013_015
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Balázs Lengyel & Rikard H. Eriksson, 2015. "Co-worker networks and productivity growth in regions," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1513, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised May 2015.
    2. Glitz, Albrecht, 2017. "Coworker networks in the labour market," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 218-230.
    3. Balázs Lengyel & Rikard H. Eriksson, 2017. "Co-worker networks, labour mobility and productivity growth in regions," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(3), pages 635-660.
    4. Meta Brown & Elizabeth Setren & Giorgio Topa, 2016. "Do Informal Referrals Lead to Better Matches? Evidence from a Firm's Employee Referral System," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 161-209.
    5. Zaharieva, Anna, 2015. "Social contacts and referrals in a labor market with on-the-job search," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 27-43.
    6. Saygin, Perihan Ozge & Weber, Andrea & Weynandt, Michèle, 2014. "Coworkers, Networks, and Job Search Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 8174, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Dickinson, David L. & Masclet, David & Peterle, Emmanuel, 2017. "Discrimination as Favoritism: The Private Benefits and Social Costs of In-group Favoritism in an Experimental Labor Market," IZA Discussion Papers 10599, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Stupnytska, Yuliia & Zaharieva, Anna, 2015. "Explaining U-shape of the referral hiring pattern in a search model with heterogeneous workers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 211-233.
    9. Stupnytska, Yuliia & Zaharieva, Anna, 2015. "Explaining the U-Shape of the Referral Hiring Pattern in a Search Model with Heterogeneous Workers," Center for Mathematical Economics Working Papers 511, Center for Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Referrals; wage inequality; employer learning; cognitive skills;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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