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'Residual' Wage Disparity in Directed Search Equilibrium


  • John Kennes

    (The University of Auckland)

  • Ian Paul King

    (The University of Auckland)

  • Benoit Julien

    (The University of Miami)


We examine how much of the observed wage dispersion among similar workers can be explained as a consequence of a lack of coordination among employers. To do this, we construct a directed search model with homogenous workers but where firms can create either good or bad jobs, aimed at either employed or unemployed workers. Workers in our model can also sell their labor to the highest bidder. The stationary equilibrium has both technology dispersion \226 different wages due to different job qualities, and contract dispersion \226 different wages due to different market experiences for workers. The equilibrium is also constrained- efficient \226 in stark contrast to undirected search models with technology dispersion. We then calibrate the model to the US economy and show that the implied dispersion measures are quite close to those in the data.

Suggested Citation

  • John Kennes & Ian Paul King & Benoit Julien, 2002. "'Residual' Wage Disparity in Directed Search Equilibrium," Macroeconomics 0205003, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:0205003 Note: Type of Document - pdf; prepared on IBM PC ; to print on Franciscan monk; pages: 35 ; figures: included. This paper was presented at the 2001 NBER summer workshop

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christopher A. Pissarides, 1994. "Search Unemployment with On-the-job Search," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(3), pages 457-475.
    2. Kenneth Burdett & Shouyong Shi & Randall Wright, 2001. "Pricing and Matching with Frictions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(5), pages 1060-1085, October.
    3. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
    4. Arthur Sweetman & Peter Kuhn, 1998. "Unemployment Insurance and Quits in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(3), pages 549-572, August.
    5. Burdett, Kenneth & Judd, Kenneth L, 1983. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 955-969, July.
    6. Benoit Julien & John Kennes & Ian King, 2000. "Bidding for Labor," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(4), pages 619-649, October.
    7. Acemoglu, Daron, 2001. "Good Jobs versus Bad Jobs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 1-21, January.
    8. Peters, Michael, 1984. "Bertrand Equilibrium with Capacity Constraints and Restricted Mobility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(5), pages 1117-1127, September.
    9. Steven J. Davis, 2001. "The Quality Distribution of Jobs and the Structure of Wages in Search Equilibrium," NBER Working Papers 8434, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Moen, Espen R, 1997. "Competitive Search Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 385-411, April.
    11. Daron Acemoglu & Robert Shimer, 2000. "Wage and Technology Dispersion," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 585-607.
    12. Julien Benoit & Kennes John & King Ian Paul, 2001. "Auctions and Posted Prices in Directed Search Equilibrium," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-16, July.
    13. Kenneth Burdett & Dale T. Mortensen, 1989. "Equilibrium Wage Differentials and Employer Size," Discussion Papers 860, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    14. James D. Montgomery, 1991. "Equilibrium Wage Dispersion and Interindustry Wage Differentials," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(1), pages 163-179.
    15. Shi, Shouyong, 2001. "Frictional Assignment. I. Efficiency," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 232-260, June.
    16. McAfee, R Preston & McMillan, John, 1987. "Auctions and Bidding," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 699-738, June.
    17. Melvyn G. Coles, 2001. "Equilibrium Wage Dispersion, Firm Size and Growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(1), pages 159-187, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Julien, Benoit & Kennes, John & King, Ian, 2006. "The Mortensen rule and efficient coordination unemployment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 149-155, February.
    2. John Kennes & Aaron Schiff, 2003. "The Value of a Reputation System," Industrial Organization 0301011, EconWPA.
    3. John Kennes, 2004. "Competitive Auctions: Theory and Application," Discussion Papers 04-16, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    Directed search; wage dispersion; Pissarides; matching technology; heterogeneity; On-the-job search;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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