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Social Connections and the Sorting of Workers to Firms

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  • Eliason, Marcus

    (IFAU)

  • Hensvik, Lena

    (Uppsala University)

  • Kramarz, Francis

    (CREST (ENSAE))

  • Nordström Skans, Oskar

    (Uppsala University)

Abstract

The literature on social networks often presumes that job search through (strong) social ties leads to increased inequality by providing privileged individuals with access to more attractive labor market opportunities. We assess this presumption in the context of sorting between AKM-style person and establishment fixed effects. Our rich Swedish register data allow us to measure connections between agents – workers to workers and workers to firms – through parents, children, siblings, spouses, former co-workers and classmates from high school/college, and current neighbors. In clear contrast with the above presumption, there is less sorting inequality among the workers hired through social networks. This outcome results from opposing factors. On the one hand, reinforcing positive sorting, high-wage job seekers are shown to have social connections to high-wage workers, and therefore to high-wage firms (because of sorting of workers over firms). Furthermore, connections have a causal impact on the allocation of workers across workplaces – employers are much more likely to hire displaced workers to whom they are connected through their employees, in particular if their social ties are strong. On the other hand, attenuating positive sorting, the (causal) impact is much stronger for low-wage firms than it is for high-wage firms, irrespective of the type of worker involved, even conditional on worker fixed effects. The lower degree of sorting among connected hires thus arises because low-wage firms use their (relatively few) connections to high-wage workers to hire workers of a type that they are unable to attract through market channels.

Suggested Citation

  • Eliason, Marcus & Hensvik, Lena & Kramarz, Francis & Nordström Skans, Oskar, 2019. "Social Connections and the Sorting of Workers to Firms," IZA Discussion Papers 12323, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp12323
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    3. Marta Silva & José Garcia-Louzão, 2021. "Coworker Networks and the Labor Market Outcomes of Displaced Workers: Evidence from Portugal," Working Papers w202121, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    4. Albrecht Glitz & Rune Vejlin, 2021. "Learning through Coworker Referrals," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 42, pages 37-71, October.
    5. Ilyés, Virág & Sebők, Anna, 2020. "Egyetemről a munkaerőpiacra. Felsőoktatási ismeretségek hatása a munkaerőpiaci kilátásokra [From university to working life - the effect peers in higher education have on labour-market outcomes]," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(10), pages 993-1028.
    6. Gyetvai, Attila & Zhu, Maria, 2021. "Coworker Networks and the Role of Occupations in Job Finding," IZA Discussion Papers 14615, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Perihan Ozge Saygin & Andrea Weber & Michèle A. Weynandt, 2021. "Coworkers, Networks, and Job-Search Outcomes among Displaced Workers," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 74(1), pages 95-130, January.
    8. Pedro Portugal, 2020. "The sources of wage variability in Portugal: a binge reading survey," Economic Bulletin and Financial Stability Report Articles and Banco de Portugal Economic Studies, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    9. Anna Baranowska-Rataj & Zoltán Elekes & Rikard Eriksson, 2021. "Escaping from Low-Wage Employment: The Role of Co-worker Networks," CERS-IE WORKING PAPERS 2123, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies.
    10. Boza István & Ilyés Virág, 2020. "Decomposition of co-worker wage gains," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Sciendo & Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 9(1), pages 1-31, March.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    networks; job search; job displacement; hiring;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand

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