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Unemployment history and frictional wage dispersion in search models of the labor market

Ortego Marti, Victor (2012) Unemployment history and frictional wage dispersion in search models of the labor market. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis studies the inability of search models to match both observed labor market flows and the empirical wage distribution. I show that a known feature of the labor market, that unemployment hurts workers' wages, has an important effect on workers' search behavior, and explains why we observe that similar workers are paid different wages. The first chapter reviews the relevant literature. I begin by describing the findings in Hornstein, Krusell and Violante (2011) that baseline search models struggle to generate significant wage dispersion, the so-called frictional wage dispersion puzzle. Further, search models face a trade-off between matching the cross-sectional wage distribution and matching the cyclical volatility of unemployment and vacancies. The chapter reviews the unemployment volatility puzzle and explains this trade-off. Given that the thesis introduces the loss of human capital during unemployment, the chapter ends with a review of the related empirical literature. Chapter 2 studies wage dispersion among identical workers in a random matching search model in which workers lose human capital during unemployment. Wage dispersion increases, as workers accept lower wages to avoid long unemployment spells. I show that the model is an important improvement over baseline search models. The model with unemployment history explains between a third and half of the observed residual wage dispersion. In Chapter 3 I add on-the-job search to the model with unemployment history. Workers accept lower wages because they keep the option of searching for better paying jobs. Wage dispersion increases significantly. The model accounts for all of the residual wage dispersion. The model also generates substantial wage dispersion even for high values of non-market time. The chapter thus addresses the trade-off between explaining frictional wage dispersion and the cyclical behavior of unemployment.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Victor Ortego Marti
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Sets: Departments > Economics
Collections > Economists Online
Supervisor: Young, Alwyn

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