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Estimation of a Roy/Search/Compensating Differential Model of the Labor Market

  • Christopher Taber

    (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

  • Rune Vejlin

    (Aarhus University)

The four most important models of post-schooling wage determination in economics are almost certainly human capital, the Roy model, the compensating differentials model, and the search model. All four lead to wage heterogeneity. While separating human capital accumulation from the others is quite common, we know remarkably little about the relative importance of the other three sources of inequality. The key aspect of the Roy model is comparative advantage in which some workers earn more than others as a result of different skill levels at labor market entry. Workers choose the job for which they achieve the highest level of earnings. By contrast, in a compensating wage differentials model a worker is willing to be paid less in order to work on a job that they enjoy more. Thus, workers with identical talent can earn different salaries. Finally, workers may have had poor luck in finding their ideal job. This type of search friction can also lead to heterogeneity in earnings as some workers may work for higher wage firms. In short, one worker may earn more than another a) because he has more talent at labor market entry (Roy Model), b) because he has accu- mulated more human capital while working (human capital), c) because he has chosen more unpleasant job (compensating differentials), or d) because he has had better luck in finding a good job (search frictions). The goal of this work is to uncover the contribution of these different components to overall earnings inequality.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2012 Meeting Papers with number 566.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:566
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Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

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  1. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1994. "High Wage Workers and High Wage Firms," NBER Working Papers 4917, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2002. "Equilibrium Wage Dispersion with Worker and Employer Heterogeneity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2295-2350, November.
  3. Pierre Cahuc & Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2003. "Wage bargaining with on-the-job search : theory and evidence," Research Unit Working Papers 0212, Laboratoire d'Economie Appliquee, INRA.
  4. Eckstein, Zvi & van den Berg, Gerard J, 2004. "Empirical Labour Search: A Survey," CEPR Discussion Papers 4199, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. A. D. Roy, 1951. "Some Thoughts On The Distribution Of Earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 135-146.
  6. Flinn, C. & Heckman, J., 1982. "New methods for analyzing structural models of labor force dynamics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 115-168, January.
  7. Gourieroux, C. & Monfort, A. & Renault, E., 1992. "Indirect Inference," Papers 92.279, Toulouse - GREMAQ.
  8. Heckman, James J & Honore, Bo E, 1990. "The Empirical Content of the Roy Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(5), pages 1121-49, September.
  9. Heckman, James J & Sedlacek, Guilherme, 1985. "Heterogeneity, Aggregation, and Market Wage Functions: An Empirical Model of Self-selection in the Labor Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1077-1125, December.
  10. Burdett, Kenneth & Mortensen, Dale T, 1998. "Wage Differentials, Employer Size, and Unemployment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(2), pages 257-73, May.
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