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Equilibrium Labor Turnover, Firm Growth and Unemployment

  • Melvyn G. Coles
  • Dale T. Mortensen

This paper considers a dynamic, non-steady state environment in which wage dispersion exists and evolves in response to shocks. Workers do not observe firm productivity and firms do not commit to future wages, but there is on-the-job search for higher paying jobs. The model allows for firm turnover (new start-up firms are created, some existing firms die) and firm specific productivity shocks. In a separating equilibrium, more productive firms signal their type by paying strictly higher wages in every state of the market. Consequently, workers always quit to firms paying a higher wage and so move efficiently from less to more productive firms. As a further implication of the cost structure assumed, endogenous firm size growth is consistent with Gibrat's law. The paper provides a complete characterization and establishes existence and uniqueness of the separating (non-steady state) equilibrium in the limiting case of equally productive firms. The existence of equilibrium with any finite number of firm types is also established. Finally, the model provides a coherent explanation of Danish manufacturing data on firm wage and labor productivity dispersion as well as the cross firm relationship between them.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18022.

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Date of creation: Apr 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18022
Note: EFG
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  1. Tor Jakob Klette & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Innovating Firms and Aggregate Innovation," NBER Working Papers 8819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lentz, Rasmus & Mortensen, Dale T., 2005. "An Empirical Model of Growth Through Product Innovation," IZA Discussion Papers 1685, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Melvyn G. Coles & Dale T. Mortensen, 2012. "Equilibrium Labor Turnover, Firm Growth and Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 18022, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Burdett, Kenneth & Judd, Kenneth L, 1983. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 955-69, July.
  5. McAfee, R. Preston & McMillan, John, 1987. "Auctions with a stochastic number of bidders," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 1-19, October.
  6. Monika Merz & Eran Yashiv, 2005. "Labor and the market value of the firm," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19891, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  7. Jean-Marc Robin, 2010. "On the dynamics of unemployment and wage distributions," CeMMAP working papers CWP04/10, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  8. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/eu4vqp9ompqllr09j003nctkn is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Giuseppe Moscarini & Fabien Postel-Vinay, 2010. "Stochastic Search Equilibrium," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000000001, David K. Levine.
  10. Dale T. Mortensen & Bent Jesper Christensen & Jesper Bagger, 2010. "Wage and Productivity Dispersion: Labor Quality or Rent Sharing?," 2010 Meeting Papers 758, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  11. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1994. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 397-415, July.
  12. Guido Menzio & Shouyong Shi, 2010. "Directed Search on the Job, Heterogeneity, and Aggregate Fluctuations," Working Papers tecipa-390, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  13. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, June.
  14. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
  15. John Haltiwanger & Ron S. Jarmin & Javier Miranda, 2010. "Who Creates Jobs? Small vs. Large vs. Young," Working Papers 10-17, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  16. Weiss, Andrew W, 1980. "Job Queues and Layoffs in Labor Markets with Flexible Wages," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(3), pages 526-38, June.
  17. Melvyn G. Coles, 2001. "Equilibrium Wage Dispersion, Firm Size and Growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(1), pages 159-187, January.
  18. Robert E. Lucas & Jr., 1967. "Adjustment Costs and the Theory of Supply," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 321.
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