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Wages, Unemployment and Inequality with Heterogeneous Firms and Workers

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  • Elhanan Helpman
  • Oleg Itskhoki
  • Stephen Redding

Abstract

In this paper we develop a multi-sector general equilibrium model of firm heterogeneity, worker heterogeneity and labor market frictions. We characterize the distributions of employment, unemployment, wages and income within and between sectors as a function of structural parameters. We find that greater firm heterogeneity increases unemployment, wage inequality and income inequality, whereas greater worker heterogeneity has ambiguous effects. We also find that labor market frictions have non-monotonic effects on aggregate unemployment and inequality through within- and between-sector components. Finally, high-ability workers have the lowest unemployment rates but the greatest wage inequality, and income inequality is lowest for intermediate ability. Although these results are interesting in their own right, the main contribution of the paper is in providing a framework for analyzing these types of issues.

Suggested Citation

  • Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki & Stephen Redding, 2008. "Wages, Unemployment and Inequality with Heterogeneous Firms and Workers," NBER Working Papers 14122, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14122 Note: EFG LS
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Felbermayr, Gabriel & Prat, Julien & Schmerer, Hans-Jörg, 2011. "Trade and unemployment: What do the data say?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(6), pages 741-758, August.
    2. Felbermayr, Gabriel & Prat, Julien & Schmerer, Hans-Jörg, 2011. "Globalization and labor market outcomes: Wage bargaining, search frictions, and firm heterogeneity," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 146(1), pages 39-73, January.
    3. Jürgen Antony & Torben Klarl & Alfred Maußner, 2012. "Firm heterogeneity, credit constraints, and endogenous growth," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 105(3), pages 199-224, April.
    4. Gabriel J. Felbermayr & Mario Larch & Wolfgang Lechthaler, 2013. "Unemployment in an Interdependent World," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, pages 262-301.
    5. Schmerer, Hans-Jörg, 2012. "FDI, skill-specific unemployment, and institutional spillover effects," Economics Discussion Papers 2012-2, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    6. Alessandra Bonfiglioli & Gino Gancia, 2013. "Heterogeneity, selection and labor market disparities," Economics Working Papers 1402, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Nov 2016.
    7. A. Kerem Co?ar & Nezih Guner & James Tybout, 2016. "Firm Dynamics, Job Turnover, and Wage Distributions in an Open Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(3), pages 625-663, March.
    8. Heid, Benedikt & Larch, Mario, 2012. "Migration, trade and unemployment," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 6, pages 1-40.
    9. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki & Stephen Redding, 2010. "Inequality and Unemployment in a Global Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(4), pages 1239-1283, July.
    10. Dobbelaere, Sabien & Luttens, Roland Iwan, 2013. "The Economics of First-Contract Mediation," IZA Discussion Papers 7541, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Tang, Heiwai, 2012. "Labor market institutions, firm-specific skills, and trade patterns," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 337-351.
    12. Sanjay Jain & Sumon Majumdar & Sharun Mukand, 2008. "Workers Without Borders? Culture, Migration and the Political Limits to Globalization," Working Papers 1196, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    13. Afonso, Oscar & Neves, Pedro Cunha & Thompson, Maria, 2016. "The skill premium and economic growth with costly investment, complementarities and international trade of intermediate goods," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 37, pages 73-86.
    14. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki, 2010. "Labour Market Rigidities, Trade and Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(3), pages 1100-1137.
    15. Sabien Dobbelaere & Roland Iwan Luttens, 2011. "Collective Bargaining under Non-binding Contracts," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-041/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    16. Paz, Lourenco, 2012. "The impacts of trade liberalization on informal labor markets: an evaluation of the Brazilian case," MPRA Paper 38858, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Paz, Lourenço S., 2014. "The impacts of trade liberalization on informal labor markets: A theoretical and empirical evaluation of the Brazilian case," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 330-348.
    18. Oscar Afonso, 2012. "Scale-independent North-South trade effects on the technological-knowledge bias and on wage inequality," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 148(1), pages 181-207, April.
    19. Afonso, Oscar & Gil, Pedro Mazeda, 2013. "Effects of North–South trade on wage inequality and on human-capital accumulation," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 481-492.
    20. Matilde Bombardini & Giovanni Gallipoli & German Pupato, 2012. "Skill Dispersion and Trade Flows," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2327-2348, August.
    21. Christian Holzner & Mario Larch, 2011. "Capacity Constraining Labor Market Frictions in a Global Economy," CESifo Working Paper Series 3597, CESifo Group Munich.
    22. Yanhui Wu, 2011. "A Simple Theory of Managerial Talent, Pay Contracts and Wage Distribution," CEP Discussion Papers dp1067, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • 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

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