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Do Informal Referrals Lead to Better Matches? Evidence from a FirmÂ’'s Employee Referral System

Author

Listed:
  • Giorgio Topa

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

  • Elizabeth Setren

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

  • Meta Brown

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

Abstract

The limited nature of data on employment referrals in large business and household surveys has so far restricted our understanding of the relationships among employment referrals, match quality, wage trajectories and turnover. Using a new firm-level dataset that includes explicit information on whether a worker was referred by a current employee of the company, we are able to provide rich detail on these empirical relationships for a single mid-to-large U.S. corporation, and to test various predictions of the theoretical literature on labor market referrals. We find that referred workers enter at higher wage levels, all else equal, but that the referred wage advantage dissipates by the third year of employment. After the fifth year the referral-wage relationship is reversed. Referred workers experience substantially less turnover, and this effect is relatively long-lasting. Despite higher predicted productivity for referred workers in the theoretical literature, we find, if anything, slightly slower promotion rates for referred than for non-referred workers. Finally, the wide range of skill and experience levels represented in this corporation permit detailed analysis of the role of referrals for workers from support staff to executives.

Suggested Citation

  • Giorgio Topa & Elizabeth Setren & Meta Brown, 2012. "Do Informal Referrals Lead to Better Matches? Evidence from a FirmÂ’'s Employee Referral System," 2012 Meeting Papers 648, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:648
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Manolis Galenianos, 2013. "Learning About Match Quality and the Use of Referrals," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(4), pages 668-690, October.
    2. Deepti Goel & Kevin Lang, 2009. "Social Ties and the Job Search of Recent Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 15186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Hellerstein, Judith K. & Kutzbach, Mark J. & Neumark, David, 2014. "Do labor market networks have an important spatial dimension?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, pages 39-58.
    4. Glitz, Albrecht, 2017. "Coworker networks in the labour market," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 218-230.
    5. Ian Schmutte, 2016. "How do social networks affect labor markets?," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 304-304.
    6. Amanda Pallais & Emily Glassberg Sands, 2015. "Why the Referential Treatment: Evidence from Field Experiments on Referrals," NBER Working Papers 21357, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Rebien, Martina & Stops, Michael & Zaharieva, Anna, 2017. "Formal search and referrals from a firm's perspective," IAB Discussion Paper 201733, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    8. Saygin, Perihan & Weber, Andrea & Weynandt, Michèle A., 2014. "Coworkers, Networks, and Job Search Outcomes," CEPR Discussion Papers 10003, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Judith K. Hellerstein & Mark J. Kutzbach & David Neumark, 2015. "Labor Market Networks and Recovery from Mass Layoffs: Evidence from the Great Recession Period," NBER Working Papers 21262, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Judith K. Hellerstein & Mark J. Kutzbach & David Neumark, 2015. "Labor Market Networks and Recovery from Mass Layoffs Before, During, and After the Great Recession," Working Papers 15-14, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    11. Stupnytska, Yuliia & Zaharieva, Anna, 2015. "Explaining U-shape of the referral hiring pattern in a search model with heterogeneous workers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 211-233.
    12. Jackson, Matthew O. & Rogers, Brian & Zenou, Yves, 2016. "Networks: An economic perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 11452, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Hensvik, Lena & Nordström Skans, Oskar, 2013. "Networks and youth labor market entry," Working Paper Series 2013:23, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    14. Eliason, Marcus & Hensvik, Lena & Kramarz, Francis & Nordstrom Skans, Oskar, 2017. "The Causal Impact of Social Connections on Firms' Outcomes," CEPR Discussion Papers 12135, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. Rebien, Martina & Stops, Michael & Zaharieva, Anna, 2017. "Formal search and referrals from a firm's perspective," IAB Discussion Paper 201733, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    16. repec:eee:gamebe:v:106:y:2017:i:c:p:329-342 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Gee, Laura K. & Jones, Jason J. & Fariss, Christopher J. & Burke, Moira & Fowler, James H., 2017. "The paradox of weak ties in 55 countries," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 362-372.
    18. Friebel, Guido & Lalanne, Marie & Richter, Bernard & Schwardmann, Peter & Seabright, Paul, 2017. "Women form social networks more selectively and less opportunistically than men," SAFE Working Paper Series 168, Research Center SAFE - Sustainable Architecture for Finance in Europe, Goethe University Frankfurt.
    19. repec:iza:izawol:journl:2017:n:369 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Lena Hensvik & Oskar Nordström Skans, 2016. "Social Networks, Employee Selection, and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(4), pages 825-867.
    21. Yann Bramoull'e & Kenan Huremovi'c, 2017. "Promotion through Connections: Favors or Information?," Papers 1708.07723, arXiv.org.
    22. Stupnytska, Yuliia & Zaharieva, Anna, 2015. "Explaining the U-Shape of the Referral Hiring Pattern in a Search Model with Heterogeneous Workers," Center for Mathematical Economics Working Papers 511, Center for Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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