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Referral hiring and wage formation in a market with adverse selection

Aurelie Dariel, Arno Riedl and Simon Siegenthaler ()

Games and Economic Behavior, 2021, vol. 130, issue C, 109-130

Abstract: The widespread use of employee referrals raises questions regarding how they affect labor market outcomes. Does referral hiring lead to a more efficient allocation of workers compared to when hiring is possible only on a competitive market? To utilize the social links of their employees, are employers willing to pay a wage premium? We develop a model and provide results from a laboratory experiment to address these questions. We find that employers often hire via referrals, which in turn mitigates adverse selection and elevates wages. Importantly, employers anticipate the future value of hiring high-productivity employees—which consists of gaining access to valuable social links—and are thus willing to take the risk of offering wage premiums when hiring on the competitive market. We also find that employers' risk aversion and the dynamic nature of the hiring process can help account for the inefficiency remaining in the labor market.

Keywords: Adverse selection; Wage formation; Asymmetric information; Referral hiring; Social links (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C92 D82 D85 E20 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2021.08.005

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