The Return to Knowledge Hierarchies
Hierarchies allow individuals to leverage their knowledge through others' time. This mechanism increases productivity and amplifies the impact of skill heterogeneity on earnings inequality. To quantify this effect, we analyze the earnings and organization of U.S. lawyers and use the equilibrium model of knowledge hierarchies in Garicano and Rossi-Hansberg (2006) to assess how much lawyers' productivity and the distribution of earnings across lawyers reflects lawyers' ability to organize problem-solving hierarchically. We analyze earnings, organizational, and assignment patterns and show that they are generally consistent with the main predictions of the model. We then use these data to estimate the model. Our estimates imply that hierarchical production leads to at least a 30% increase in production in this industry, relative to a situation where lawyers within the same office do not "vertically specialize." We further find that it amplifies earnings inequality, increasing the ratio between the 95th and 50th percentiles from 3.7 to 4.8. We conclude that the impact of hierarchy on productivity and earnings distributions in this industry is substantial but not dramatic, reflecting the fact that the problems lawyers face are diverse and that the solutions tend to be customized.
|Date of creation:||Jan 2007|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
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.:
- Sattinger, Michael, 1993. "Assignment Models of the Distribution of Earnings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 831-880, June.
- Steven Tadelis & Jonathan Levin, 2004. "Profit Sharing and the Role of Professional Partnerships," 2004 Meeting Papers 156, Society for Economic Dynamics.
- Vuong, Quang H, 1989. "Likelihood Ratio Tests for Model Selection and Non-nested Hypotheses," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 307-333, March.
- George S Olley & Ariel Pakes, 1992.
"The Dynamics Of Productivity In The Telecommunications Equipment Industry,"
92-2, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
- Olley, G Steven & Pakes, Ariel, 1996. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1263-1297, November.
- G. Steven Olley & Ariel Pakes, 1992. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," NBER Working Papers 3977, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Garicano, Luis & Hubbard, Thomas N., 2005. "Hierarchical sorting and learning costs: Theory and evidence from the law," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 349-369, October.
- Gene M. Grossman & Giovanni Maggi, 1998.
"Diversity and Trade,"
NBER Working Papers
6741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Epple, Dennis, 1987. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Estimating Demand and Supply Functions for Differentiated Products," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(1), pages 59-80, February.
- Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2008.
"Why has CEO Pay Increased So Much?,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 49-100.
- Raaj Kumar Sah & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1984.
"The Architecture of Economic Systems: Hierarchies and Polyarchies,"
NBER Working Papers
1334, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Sah, Raaj Kumar & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1986. "The Architecture of Economic Systems: Hierarchies and Polyarchies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 716-727, September.
- Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1.
- Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
- Paul M Romer, 1999.
"Increasing Returns and Long-Run Growth,"
Levine's Working Paper Archive
2232, David K. Levine.
- Paul Romer, 1989.
"Endogenous Technological Change,"
NBER Working Papers
3210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Legros, Patrick & Newman, Andrew, 2002. "Assortative Matching in a Non-transferable World," CEPR Discussion Papers 3469, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Thomas N Hubbard & Luis Garicano, 2003.
"Specialization, Firms, and Markets: The Division of Labor Within and Between Law Firms,"
03-13, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
- Luis Garicano & Thomas N. Hubbard, 2003. "Specialization, Firms, and Markets: The Division of Labor Within and Between Law Firms," NBER Working Papers 9719, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kremer, M & Maskin, E, 1996.
"Wage Inequality and Segregation by Skill,"
96-23, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
- Michael Kremer, 1993. "The O-Ring Theory of Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 551-575.
- Calvo, Guillermo A & Wellisz, Stanislaw, 1979. "Hierarchy, Ability, and Income Distribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 991-1010, October.
- Patrick Bajari & C. Lanier Benkard, 2005. "Demand Estimation with Heterogeneous Consumers and Unobserved Product Characteristics: A Hedonic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1239-1276, December.
- Michael Kremer & Eric Maskin, 1996. "Wage Inequality and Segregation," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1777, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "The Economics of Superstars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 845-858, December.
- Luis Garicano, 2000. "Hierarchies and the Organization of Knowledge in Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 874-904, October.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12815. 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: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.