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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
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:50446
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  1. 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.
  2. Giorgio Topa & Stephen Ross & Patrick Bayer, 2005. "Place of Work and Place of Residence: Informal Hiring Networks and Labor Market Outcomes," Working Papers 05-23, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  3. Bentolila, Samuel & Michelacci, Claudio & Suarez, Javier, 2004. "Social Contacts and Occupational Choice," CEPR Discussion Papers 4308, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Saloner, Garth, 1985. "Old Boy Networks as Screening Mechanisms," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 255-67, July.
  5. Antoni Calvó-Armengol & Matthew O. Jackson, 2004. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 426-454, June.
  6. 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.
  7. Mortensen, D. T. & Vishwanath, T., 1995. "Personal contacts and earnings: It is who you know!," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 103-104, March.
  8. 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.
  9. John T. Addison & Pedro Portugal, 1998. "Job Search Methods and Outcomes," Working Papers w199808, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
  10. Fontaine, François, 2008. "Why are similar workers paid differently? the role of social networks," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(12), pages 3960-3977, December.
  11. 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.
  12. Michele Pellizzari, 2010. "Do Friends and Relatives Really Help in Getting a Good Job?," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 63(3), pages 494-510, April.
  13. Zaharieva, Anna, 2013. "Social welfare and wage inequality in search equilibrium with personal contacts," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 107-121.
  14. Anna Zaharieva, 2012. "Double Matching: Social Contacts in a Labour Market with On-the-Job Search," Center for Mathematical Economics Working Papers 473, Center for Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University.
  15. H. Peyton Young, 1996. "The Economics of Convention," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 105-122, Spring.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Charles F. Manski, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 7580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. 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.
  20. Marmaros, David & Sacerdote, Bruce, 2002. "Peer and social networks in job search," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 870-879, May.
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