NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

An Empirical Model of Wage Dispersion with Sorting

Jesper Bagger, Rasmus Lentz

NBER Working Paper No. 20031
Issued in April 2014
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Labor Studies

This paper studies wage dispersion in an equilibrium on-the-job-search model with endogenous search intensity. Workers differ in their permanent skill level and firms differ with respect to productivity. Positive (negative) sorting results if the match production function is supermodular (submodular). The model is estimated on Danish matched employer-employee data. We find evidence of positive assortative matching. In the estimated equilibrium match distribution, the correlation between worker skill and firm productivity is 0.12. The assortative matching has a substantial impact on wage dispersion. We decompose wage variation into four sources: Worker heterogeneity, firm heterogeneity, frictions, and sorting. Worker heterogeneity contributes 51% of the variation, firm heterogeneity contributes 11%, frictions 23%, and finally sorting contributes 15%. We measure the output loss due to mismatch by asking how much greater output would be if the estimated population of matches were perfectly positively assorted. In this case, output would increase by 7.7%.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20031

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