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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://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
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:0511012
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 60
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

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  1. Abraham, Katharine G & Farber, Henry S, 1987. "Job Duration, Seniority, and Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 278-97, June.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. K. Newey, Whitney, 1985. "Generalized method of moments specification testing," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 229-256, September.
  5. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-90, October.
  6. 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.
  7. Ann P. Bartel & George J. Borjas, 1978. "Wage Growth and Job Turnover: An Empirical Analysis," NBER Working Papers 0285, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Henry S. Farber & Robert Gibbons, 1996. "Learning and Wage Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1007-1047.
  9. Abowd, John M. & Kramarz, Francis, 1999. "Econometric analyses of linked employer-employee data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 53-74, March.
  10. 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.
  11. Postel-Vinay, Fabien & Robin, Jean-Marc, 2002. "Equilibrium Wage Dispersion with Worker and Employer Heterogeneity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3548, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-54, July.
  13. James Albrecht & Susan Vroman, 2000. "A Matching Model with Endogenous Skill Requirements," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0774, Econometric Society.
  14. 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.
  15. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
  16. Shimer, R. & Smith, L., 1997. "Assortative Matching and Search," Working papers 97-2a, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  17. Hausman, Jerry A, 1978. "Specification Tests in Econometrics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1251-71, November.
  18. Max Gruetter & Rafael Lalive, . "The Importance of Firms in Wage Determination," IEW - Working Papers 207, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  19. 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.
  20. Shimer Robert & Smith Lones, 2001. "Matching, Search, and Heterogeneity," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-18, April.
  21. Jacob Mincer & Boyan Jovanovic, 1979. "Labor Mobility and Wages," NBER Working Papers 0357, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  24. 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.
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  28. repec:adr:anecst:y:1999:i:55-56:p:07 is not listed on IDEAS
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  33. 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.
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  36. Sattinger, Michael, 1995. "Search and the Efficient Assignment of Workers to Jobs," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(2), pages 283-302, May.
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