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Heterogeneity, selection and labor market disparities

We study the incentives to improve ability in a model where heterogeneous firms and workers interact in a labor market characterized by matching frictions and costly screening. When effort in improving ability raises both the mean and the variance of the resulting ability distribution, multiple equilibria may arise. In the high-effort equilibrium, heterogeneity in ability is sufficiently large to induce firms to select the best workers, thereby confirming the belief that effort is important for finding good jobs. In the low-effort equilibrium, ability is not sufficiently dispersed to justify screening, thereby confirming the belief that effort is not so important. The model has implications for wage inequality, the distribution of firm characteristics, sorting patterns between firms and workers, and unemployment rates that can help explaining observed cross-country variation in socio-economic and labor market outcomes.

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File URL: http://www.econ.upf.edu/docs/papers/downloads/1402.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 1402.

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Date of creation: Oct 2013
Date of revision: Mar 2015
Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1402
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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  1. Helpman, Elhanan & Itskhoki, Oleg & Redding, Stephen J., 2009. "Inequality and Unemployment in a Global Economy," CEPR Discussion Papers 7353, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Alessandra Bonfiglioli & Gino Gancia, 2009. "Growth, selection and appropriate contracts," Economics Working Papers 1345, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jul 2012.
  3. John Hassler & José V. Rodríguez Mora & Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2005. "A Positive Theory Of Geographic Mobility And Social Insurance," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(1), pages 263-303, 02.
  4. repec:dgr:uvatin:20100042 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Elhanan Helpman & Oleg Itskhoki & Stephen Redding, 2008. "Wages, Unemployment and Inequality with Heterogeneous Firms and Workers," NBER Working Papers 14122, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Piketty, Thomas, 1998. "Self-fulfilling beliefs about social status," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 115-132, October.
  7. Yeaple, Stephen & Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc, 2004. "Export versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," Scholarly Articles 3229098, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Hanming Fang & Andrea Moro, 2010. "Theories of Statistical Discrimination and Affirmative Action: A Survey," NBER Working Papers 15860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Kenneth R Troske, 1994. "Evidence on the Employer Size-Wage Premium From Worker-Establishment Matched Data," Working Papers 94-10, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  10. Giorgina Brown & John Micklewright & Sylke V. Schnepf & Robert Waldmann, 2007. "International surveys of educational achievement: how robust are the findings?," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 170(3), pages 623-646.
  11. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1994. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 397-415, July.
  12. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-50, September.
  13. Acemoglu, Daron, 1995. "Reward structures and the allocation of talent," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 17-33, January.
  14. Krueger, Dirk & Perri, Fabrizio & Pistaferri, Luigi & Violante, Giovanni L, 2009. "Cross Sectional Facts for Macroeconomists," CEPR Discussion Papers 7582, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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