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Do Workers Really Benefit From Their Social Networks?

  • Fontaine, Francois


    (Paris School of Economics)

This paper provides a simple matching model in which unemployed workers and employers in large firms can be matched together through social networks or through more "formal" methods of search. We show that networks do not necessarily add new externalities and that some results previously obtained in the literature are questionable. Nevertheless, social networks can, in some case, substitute for labor market and this crowding-out effect may be socially costly. We show that a policy increasing the number of workers embedded in the social networks can increase the unemployment rate and decrease workers welfare. Since it is mostly the firms which benefit from larger social networks, transfers from the firms to the workers are necessary to make larger access to the social networks efficient.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1282.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Recherches Économique de Louvain / Louvan Economic Reivew, 2008, 74 (1), 5-31
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1282
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  1. Cahuc, Pierre & Fontaine, François, 2002. "On the Efficiency of Job Search with Social Networks," CEPR Discussion Papers 3511, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Calvó-Armengol, Antoni & Zenou, Yves, 2001. "Job Matching, Social Network and Word-of-Mouth Communication," Seminar Papers 695, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  3. Gregg, Paul & Wadsworth, Jonathan, 1996. "How Effective Are State Employment Agencies? Jobcentre Use and Job Matching in Britain," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 58(3), pages 443-67, August.
  4. Bentolila, Samuel & Ichino, Andrea, 2000. "Unemployment and Consumption: Are Job Losses Less Painful near the Mediterranean?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2539, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Pierre Cahuc & Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2006. "Wage Bargaining with On-the-Job Search: Theory and Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(2), pages 323-364, 03.
  6. Addison, John T. & Portugal, Pedro, 2001. "Job Search Methods and Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 349, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Margolis, David N. & Simonnet, Véronique, 2003. "Educational Track, Networks and Labor Market Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 699, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Brown, Martin & Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst, 2003. "Relational Contracts and the Nature of Market Interactions," IZA Discussion Papers 897, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. James Albrecht & Pieter A. Gautier & Susan Vroman, 2006. "Equilibrium Directed Search with Multiple Applications," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(4), pages 869-891.
  10. Kugler, Adriana D., 2003. "Employee referrals and efficiency wages," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(5), pages 531-556, October.
  11. Christopher A. Pissarides & Barbara Petrongolo, 2001. "Looking into the Black Box: A Survey of the Matching Function," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(2), pages 390-431, June.
  12. Dale T. Mortensen & Christopher A. Pissarides, 1999. "Job Reallocation, Employment Fluctuations and Unemployment," CEP Discussion Papers dp0421, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  13. Stole, Lars A & Zwiebel, Jeffrey, 1996. "Intra-firm Bargaining under Non-binding Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(3), pages 375-410, July.
  14. Holzer, Harry J, 1988. "Search Method Use by Unemployed Youth," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(1), pages 1-20, January.
  15. Antoni Calvó-Armengol & Matthew O. Jackson, 2004. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 426-454, June.
  16. Harry J. Holzer, 1987. "Hiring Procedures in the Firm: Their Economic Determinants and Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 2185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Javier Suarez & Samuel Bentolila & Claudio Michelacci, 2004. "Social Contacts and Occupational Choice," 2004 Meeting Papers 593, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  18. 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.
  19. Stole, Lars A & Zwiebel, Jeffrey, 1996. "Organizational Design and Technology Choice under Intrafirm Bargaining," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 195-222, March.
  20. Venkatesh Bala & Sanjeev Goyal, 2000. "A Noncooperative Model of Network Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1181-1230, September.
  21. Marmaros, David & Sacerdote, Bruce, 2002. "Peer and social networks in job search," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 870-879, May.
  22. Hosios, Arthur J, 1990. "On the Efficiency of Matching and Related Models of Search and Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(2), pages 279-98, April.
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