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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
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    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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