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Heterogeneity and Learning in Labor Markets

  • Simon D. Woodcock

    (Simon Fraser University)

This paper examines the role of agent heterogeneity and learning on wage dispersion and employment dynamics. In the first half of the paper, I present an equilibrium matching model where heterogeneous workers and firms learn about match quality and bargain over wages. The model generalizes Jovanovic (1979) to the case of heterogeneous workers and firms. Equilibrium wage dispersion arises due to productivity differences across workers, technological differences across firms, and heterogeneity in beliefs about match quality. Under a simple CRS technology, the equilibrium wage is additively separable in worker- and firm-specific components, and in the posterior mean of beliefs about match quality. This parallels the 'person and firm effects' empirical specification of Abowd et. al. (1999, AKM) and others. It consequently provides a theoretical context for the AKM model, and a formal economic interpretation of their empirical person and firm effects. The model also yields an assortative matching result that predicts a negative correlation between estimated person and firm effects, which is consistent with most empirical evidence. Finally, the model makes novel predictions about the relationship between the person and firm effects and separation behavior, job duration, and firm size. In the second half of the paper, I test the model's empirical predictions. I estimate fixed and mixed effects specifications of the equilibrium wage function on the LEHD database. The mixed effect specifications generalize the earlier work of AKM and others. The learning component of the matching model implies a specific structure for the error covariance. I exploit this structure to test whether earnings residuals are consistent with Bayesian learning, and to estimate structural parameters of the matching model. I find considerable support for the matching model in these data.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/lab/papers/0511/0511012.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Labor and Demography with number 0511012.

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Length: 60 pages
Date of creation: 15 Nov 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:0511012
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 60
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. Shimer, R. & Smith, L., 1998. "Assortive Matching and Search," Papers 98-09, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  2. John M. Abowd (corresponding) & Francis Kramarz, 2004. "Are Good Workers Employed by Good Firms? A Simple Test of Positive Assortative Matching Models," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 385, Econometric Society.
  3. Joseph G. Altonji & Robert A. Shakotko, 1985. "Do Wages Rise With Job Seniority?," NBER Working Papers 1616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  5. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
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  13. 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.
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  17. Abowd, John M & Card, David, 1989. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 411-45, March.
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  19. Hausman, Jerry A, 1978. "Specification Tests in Econometrics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1251-71, November.
  20. M. Andrews & L. Gill & R. Upward, 2006. "High wage workers and low wage firms: Negative assortative matching or statistical artefact?," The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 0615, Economics, The University of Manchester.
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  24. Farber, Henry S & Gibbons, Robert, 1996. "Learning and Wage Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1007-47, November.
  25. James Albrecht & Susan Vroman, 2002. "A Matching Model with Endogenous Skill Requirements," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(1), pages 283-305, February.
  26. Jacob Mincer & Boyan Jovanovic, 1981. "Labor Mobility and Wages," NBER Chapters, in: Studies in Labor Markets, pages 21-64 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. John M. Abowd & Robert H. Creecy & Francis Kramarz, 2002. "Computing Person and Firm Effects Using Linked Longitudinal Employer-Employee Data," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-06, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  28. Chamberlain, Gary, 1984. "Panel data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 22, pages 1247-1318 Elsevier.
  29. Gautier, Pieter A, 2002. "Unemployment and Search Externalities in a Model with Heterogeneous Jobs and Workers," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 69(273), pages 21-40, February.
  30. Lee A. LILLARD, 1999. "Job Turnover Heterogeneity and Person-Job-Specific Time-Series Wages," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 55-56, pages 183-210.
  31. Goux, Dominique & Maurin, Eric, 1999. "Persistence of Interindustry Wage Differentials: A Reexamination Using Matched Worker-Firm Panel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(3), pages 492-533, July.
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  35. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-54, July.
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