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Informal versus Formal Search: Which Yields a Better Pay?

  • Tumen, Semih

Estimates on the effect of job contact method -- i.e., informal versus formal search -- on wage offers vary considerably across studies, with some of them finding a positive correlation between getting help from informal connections and obtaining high-paying jobs, while others finding a negative one. In this paper, I investigate the sources of discrepancies in these empirical results. Using a formal job search framework, I derive an equilibrium wage distribution which reveals that the informal search yields for some groups higher and for some others lower wages than formal search. The key result is the existence of nonmonotonicities in wage offers. Two potential sources of these nonmonotonicities exist: (i) peer effects and (ii) unobserved worker heterogeneity in terms of the inherent cost of maintaining connections within a productive informal network. The model predicts that a greater degree of unobserved heterogeneity tilts the estimates toward producing a positive correlation between informal search and higher wages, whereas stronger peer influences tend to yield a negative correlation. This conclusion informs the empirical research in the sense that identification of the true correlation between job contact methods and wage offers requires a careful assessment of the unobserved heterogeneity and peer influences in the relevant sample.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 50446.

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Date of creation: 01 Oct 2013
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:50446
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  1. Patrick Bayer & Stephen L. Ross, 2004. "Place of Work and Place of Residence: Informal Hiring Networks and Labor Market Outcomes," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 495, Econometric Society.
  2. Michele Pellizzari, 2004. "Do friends and relatives really help in getting a good job?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19980, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Montgomery, James D, 1991. "Social Networks and Labor-Market Outcomes: Toward an Economic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1407-18, December.
  4. Marmaros, David & Sacerdote, Bruce, 2002. "Peer and social networks in job search," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 870-879, May.
  5. Fontaine, Francois, 2005. "Why Are Similar Workers Paid Differently? The Role of Social Networks," IZA Discussion Papers 1786, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Zaharieva, Anna, 2013. "Double Matching: Social Contacts in a Labour Market with On-the-Job Search," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79891, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  7. John T. Addison & Pedro Portugal, 1998. "Job Search Methods and Outcomes," Working Papers w199808, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
  8. Matt Jackson, 2003. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," Theory workshop papers 658612000000000032, UCLA Department of Economics.
  9. Böheim, René & Taylor, Mark P., 2001. "Job search methods, intensity and success in Britain in the 1990s," ISER Working Paper Series 2001-07, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
  10. Antoninis, Manos, 2006. "The wage effects from the use of personal contacts as hiring channels," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 133-146, January.
  11. Samuel Bentolila & Claudio Michelacci & Javier Suarez, 2010. "Social Contacts and Occupational Choice," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 77(305), pages 20-45, 01.
  12. Zaharieva, Anna, 2014. "Social welfare and wage inequality in search equilibrium with personal contacts," Center for Mathematical Economics Working Papers 459, Center for Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University.
  13. Mortensen, Dale T. & Vishwanath, Tara, 1994. "Personal contacts and earnings : It is who you know!," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 187-201, March.
  14. Charles F. Manski, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 7580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Yannis M. Ioannides & Linda Datcher Loury, 2002. "Job Information Networks, Neighborhood Effects and Inequality," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0217, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  16. Linda Datcher Loury, 2006. "Some Contacts Are More Equal than Others: Informal Networks, Job Tenure, and Wages," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 299-318, April.
  17. H. Peyton Young, 1996. "The Economics of Convention," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 105-122, Spring.
  18. Luigi Pistaferri, 1999. "Informal Networks in the Italian Labor Market," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 58(3-4), pages 355-375, December.
  19. Simon, Curtis J & Warner, John T, 1992. "Matchmaker, Matchmaker: The Effect of Old Boy Networks on Job Match Quality, Earnings, and Tenure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(3), pages 306-30, July.
  20. Saloner, Garth, 1985. "Old Boy Networks as Screening Mechanisms," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 255-67, July.
  21. René Böheim & Mark P Taylor, 2002. "Job search methods, intensity and success in Britain in the 1990s," Economics working papers 2002-06, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
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