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The Role of Family Ties in the Labour Market. An Interpretation Based on Efficiency Wage Theory

  • De Paola, Maria
  • Scoppa, Vincenzo

By casual empiricism, it seems that many firms take explicit account of the family ties connecting workers, often hiring individuals belonging to the same family or passing jobs on from parents to their children. This paper makes an attempt to explain this behaviour by introducing the assumption of altruism within the family and supposing that agents maximise a family utility function rather than an individual one. This hypothesis has been almost ignored in the analysis of the relationship between employers and employees. The implications of this assumption in the efficiency wage models are explored: by employing members of the same family, firms can use a (credible) harsher threat¬ – involving all the family’s members in case of one member’s shirking - that allows them to pay a lower efficiency wage. On the other hand, workers who accept this agreement exchange a reduction in wage with an increase in their probability of being employed: this can be optimal in situation of high unemployment. Moreover, the link between parents and children allows the firm to follow a strategy that solves the problem of an individual’s finite time horizon through family’s reputation.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 8956.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:8956
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  1. 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.
  2. Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Bergstrom, Theodore C, 1989. "A Fresh Look at the Rotten Kid Theorem--and Other Household Mysteries," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1138-59, October.
  4. Eliana La Ferrara, . "Ethnicity and Reciprocity: A model of Credit Transactions in Ghana," Working Papers 193, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  5. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-83, May.
  6. Albert Alesina & Stephan Danninger & Massimo Rostagno, 2001. "Redistribution Through Public Employment: The Case of Italy," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 48(3), pages 2.
  7. Harry J. Holzer, 1986. "Search Method Use by Unemployed Youth," NBER Working Papers 1859, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Bentolila, Samuel & Ichino, Andrea, 2000. "Unemployment and Consumption: Are Job Losses Less Painful near the Mediterranean?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2539, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. De Paola, Maria & Scoppa, Vincenzo, 2003. "Family ties and training provision in an insider-outsider framework," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 197-217, May.
  10. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  11. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1988. "Fairness and Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 44-49, May.
  12. Drazen, Allan & Gottfries, Nils, 1994. "Seniority Rules and the Persistence of Unemployment," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(2), pages 228-44, April.
  13. Arnott, Richard & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1991. "Moral Hazard and Nonmarket Institutions: Dysfunctional Crowding Out or Peer Monitoring?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 179-90, March.
  14. Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 1999. "Social relations and cooperation in organizations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 1-25, January.
  15. Akerlof, George A, 1984. "Gift Exchange and Efficiency-Wage Theory: Four Views," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 79-83, May.
  16. L. Wade, 1988. "Review," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 58(1), pages 99-100, July.
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