Firms and Labor Market Inequality: Evidence and Some Theory


We synthesize two related literatures on firm-level drivers of wage inequality. Studies of rent sharing that use matched worker-firm data find elasticities of wages with respect to value added per worker in the range of 0.05 to 0.15. Studies of wage determination with worker and firm fixed effects typically find that firm-specific premiums explain 20% of overall wage variation. To interpret these findings we develop a model of wage setting in which workers have idiosyncratic tastes for different workplaces. Simple versions of this model can rationalize standard fixed effects specifications and also match the typical rent-sharing elasticities in the literature.

Published as: Firms and labor market inequality: Evidence and some theory in Journal of Labor Economics , Vol. 36, No. 51, S13-S70, January, 2018