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Heterogeneity and Learning in Labor Markets

Listed author(s):
  • 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://econwpa.repec.org/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
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:0511012
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 60
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

References listed on IDEAS
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  1. Abowd, J.M. & Kramarz, F. & Margolis, D.N., 1995. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," Cahiers de recherche 9503, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  2. Pierre Cahuc & Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2006. "Wage Bargaining with On-the-Job Search: Theory and Evidence," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00176090, HAL.
  3. Upward, Richard & Schank, Thorsten & J. Andrews, Martyn, 2005. "Practical estimation methods for linked employer-employee data," Discussion Papers 29 [rev.], Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
  4. Steven Stern, 1990. "The Effects of Firm Optimizing Behaviour in Matching Models," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(4), pages 647-660.
  5. 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.
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  10. Sattinger, Michael, 1975. "Comparative Advantage and the Distributions of Earnings and Abilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 43(3), pages 455-468, May.
  11. Robert Shimer & Lones Smith, 2000. "Assortative Matching and Search," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 343-370, March.
  12. 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.
  13. Gruetter, Max & Lalive, Rafael, 2004. "The Importance of Firms in Wage Determination," IZA Discussion Papers 1367, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  18. John M. Abowd & Paul A. Lengermann & Kevin L. McKinney, 2002. "The Measurement of Human Capital in the U.S. Economy," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-09, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau, revised Mar 2003.
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  25. Andrews, Martyn J. & Gill, Len & Schank, Thorsten & Upward, Richard, 2006. "High wage workers and low wage firms : negative assortative matching or statistical artefact?," Discussion Papers 42, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
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