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Hiring Risky Workers

  • Edward P. Lazear

It has long been recognized in finance and other literature that variance provides option value. The same point carries over to the labor market. Firms like variance in new employees because they can keep the good workers and terminate the bad ones. But market wages must adjust to make the marginal firm indifferent between high and low variance workers. The market equilibrium for new, risky workers is explored to determine how workers and firms line up on the various sides of the market. Firms in growing industries prefer young, high variance workers. Growing industries will be characterized by high turnover rates. In order for risky workers to provide option value, it is necessary that the initial employer have some advantage over other firms. Private information or mobility costs can provide that advantage. Also required is that the risk have a firm specific component. General variations in ability provide no option value to an initial hirer.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w5334.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5334.

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Date of creation: Nov 1995
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Publication status: published as Ohashi, Isao and Toshiaki Tachibanaki. Internal labour markets, incentives and employment. New York: St. Martin's Press; London: Macmillan Press, 1998.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5334
Note: LS
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  1. Reuben Gronau, 1982. "Sex-Related Wage Differentials and Women's Interrupted Labor Careers--The Chicken or the Egg," NBER Working Papers 1002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Gibbons, Robert & Katz, Lawrence F, 1991. "Layoffs and Lemons," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(4), pages 351-80, October.
  3. Rothschild, Michael, 1974. "A two-armed bandit theory of market pricing," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 185-202, October.
  4. Michael Waldman, 1983. "Job Assignments, Signalling nad Efficiency," UCLA Economics Working Papers 286, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. 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.
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