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Identifying Sorting, In Theory

  • Philipp Kircher

    (UPenn)

  • Jan Eeckhout

    (UPF and UPenn)

We argue that using wage data alone, it is virtually impossible to identify whether Assortative Matching between worker and firm types is positive or negative. In standard competitive matching models the wages are determined by the marginal contribution of a worker, and the marginal contribution might be higher or lower for low productivity firms depending on the production function. For every production function that induces positive sorting we can find a production function that induces negative sorting but generates identical wages. This arises even when we allow for non-competitive mismatch, for example due to search frictions. Even though we cannot identify the sign of the sorting, we can identify the strength, i.e., the magnitude of the cross-partial, and the associated welfare loss. While we show analytically that standard fixed effects regressions are not suitable to recover the strength of sorting, we propose an alternative procedure that measures the strength of sorting in the presence of search frictions independent of the sign of the sorting.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2009 Meeting Papers with number 581.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed009:581
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  2. Mendes, Rute & van den Berg, Gerard J & Lindeboom, Maarten, 2007. "An empirical assessment of assortative matching in the labor market," Working Paper Series 2007:30, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  3. Jan Eeckhout & Philipp Kircher, 2008. "Sorting and Decentralized Price Competition," PIER Working Paper Archive 08-020, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
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  15. Arnaud Dupuy, 2012. "Sorting on Skills and Preferences: Tinbergen Meets Sattinger," Working Papers 2012/13, Maastricht School of Management.
  16. Stefan Bender & Till von Wachter, 2006. "In the Right Place at the Wrong Time: The Role of Firms and Luck in Young Workers' Careers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1679-1705, December.
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  18. Shouyong Shi, 1998. "Frictional Assignment," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 74, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
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