Frictional Wage Dispersion in Search Models: A Quantitative Assessment

51 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2012

See all articles by Andreas Hornstein

Andreas Hornstein

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

Per Krusell

Princeton University - Department of Economics; Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Giovanni L. Violante

New York University, Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 1, 2006

Abstract

Standard search and matching models of equilibrium unemployment, once properly calibrated, can generate only a small amount of frictional wage dispersion, i.e., wage differentials among ex-ante similar workers induced purely by search frictions. We derive this result for a specific measure of wage dispersion the ratio between the average wage and the lowest (reservation) wage paid. We show that in a large class of search and matching models this statistic (the mean-min ratio") can be obtained in closed form as a function of observable variables (i.e., interest rate, value of leisure, and statistics of labor market turnover). Looking at various independent data sources suggests that, empirically, residual wage dispersion (i.e., inequality among observationally similar workers) exceeds the model's prediction by a factor of 20. We discuss three extensions of the model (risk aversion, volatile wages during employment, and on-the-job search) and find that, in their simplest version, they can improve its performance, but only modestly. We conclude that either frictions account for a tiny fraction of residual wage dispersion, or the standard model needs to be augmented to confront the data.

Keywords: labor market, wage inequality, search frictions, job search

JEL Classification: D83, E24, J31, J41, J63, J64

Suggested Citation

Hornstein, Andreas and Krusell, Per L. and Violante, Giovanni L., Frictional Wage Dispersion in Search Models: A Quantitative Assessment (September 1, 2006). FRB Richmond Working Paper No. 06-07. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2186158 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2186158

Andreas Hornstein (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond ( email )

P.O. Box 27622
Richmond, VA 23261
United States
804-697-8266 (Phone)
804-697-8255 (Fax)

Per L. Krusell

Princeton University - Department of Economics ( email )

111 Fisher Hall
Princeton, NJ
United States
609-258-4003 (Phone)
609-258-6419 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://rincewind.iies.su.se/%7Ekrusell/

Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES) ( email )

Stockholm, SE-10691
Sweden
+46 0 8 16 30 73 (Phone)
+46 0 8 16 41 77 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://rincewind.iies.su.se/%7Ekrusell/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Giovanni L. Violante

New York University, Department of Economics ( email )

269 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10003
United States
212-992-9771 (Phone)
212-995-4186 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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