IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Social networks, employee selection and labor market outcomes

  • 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)

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.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy in its series Working Paper Series with number 2013:15.

in new window

Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: 26 Jun 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2013_015
Contact details of provider: Postal: IFAU, P O Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Phone: (+46) 18 - 471 70 70
Fax: (+46) 18 - 471 70 71
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Kramarz, Francis & Nordström Skans, Oskar, 2011. "When strong ties are strong Networks and youth labor market entry," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2011:18, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  2. Kugler, Adriana D., 2003. "Employee referrals and efficiency wages," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(5), pages 531-556, October.
  3. Henry S. Farber & Robert Gibbons, 1994. "Learning and Wage Dynamics," Working Papers 707, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Joshua C. Pinkston, 2009. "A Model of Asymmetric Employer Learning with Testable Implications," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 367-394.
  5. Michele Pellizzari, 2010. "Do Friends and Relatives Really Help in Getting a Good Job?," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 63(3), pages 494-510, April.
  6. Olof Aslund & Lena Hensvik & Oskar Nordstrom Skans, 2009. "Seeking similarity: How immigrants and natives manage at the labor market," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0932, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  7. Marmaros, David & Sacerdote, Bruce, 2002. "Peer and social networks in job search," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 870-879, May.
  8. Fabian Lange, 2007. "The Speed of Employer Learning," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 1-35.
  9. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, 1997. "Employer Learning and Statistical Discrimination," NBER Working Papers 6279, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach & Douglas L. Miller, 2011. "Robust Inference With Multiway Clustering," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(2), pages 238-249, April.
  13. Joshua C. Pinkston, 2006. "How Much Do Employers Learn from Referrals?," Working Papers 392, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  14. Sergio Currarini & Paolo Pin & Matthew O. Jackson, 2007. "An Economic Model of Friendship: Homophily, Minorities and Segregation," Working Papers 2007_20, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
  15. Lindqvist, Erik & Westman, Roine, 2009. "The Labor Market Returns to Cognitive and Noncognitive Ability: Evidence from the Swedish Enlistment," Working Paper Series 794, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  16. Javier Suarez & Samuel Bentolila & Claudio Michelacci, 2004. "Social Contacts and Occupational Choice," 2004 Meeting Papers 593, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  17. Giorgio Topa & Elizabeth Setren & Meta Brown, 2012. "Do Informal Referrals Lead to Better Matches? Evidence from a FirmÂ’'s Employee Referral System," 2012 Meeting Papers 648, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  18. 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.
  19. Burks, Stephen V. & Cowgill, Bo & Hoffman, Mitchell & Housman, Michael, 2013. "The Value of Hiring through Referrals," IZA Discussion Papers 7382, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  20. Joshua C. Pinkston, 2006. "A test of screening discrimination with employer learning," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 59(2), pages 267-284, January.
  21. Alessandra Casella & Nobuyuki Hanaki, 2006. "Why Personal Ties Cannot Be Bought," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 261-264, May.
  22. 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.
  23. Jonah B. Gelbach & Doug Miller, 2009. "Robust Inference with Multi-way Clustering," Working Papers 99, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  24. Penn State & Manolis Galenianos, 2008. "Hiring through Referrals," 2008 Meeting Papers 672, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  25. Uta Schönberg, 2007. "Testing for Asymmetric Employer Learning," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 651-691.
  26. Matt Jackson, 2003. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," Theory workshop papers 658612000000000032, UCLA Department of Economics.
  27. 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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2013_015. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Margareta Wicklander)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.