Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Employment Inequality, Employment Regulation, and Social Welfare

Borooah, Vani (2002): Employment Inequality, Employment Regulation, and Social Welfare. Published in: Economic Growth, Inequality, and Migration (2002): pp. 108-130.

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This paper develops a model which explains the unequal employment outcomes of two groups - defined as their, respective, likelihoods of successfully filling job vacancies - in terms of disparities in their access to job networks. This disparity arises because a proportion of vacancies are filled using informal methods so that, as a first step, information about vacancies only becomes available through word-of-mouth; as a second step, appointments are based on the recommendations of existing employees. If society is fragmented, then members of one group will have little or no contact with members of the other group. Therefore, the power to inform and to recommend becomes excessively concentrated in the group that dominates the workforce. In such a situation, the role of fair-employment regulation is to ensure fair access to jobs for all. While this generates equity gains, it could, by raising the costs of hiring and firing, also be accompanied by efficiency losses. Whether social welfare increases or decreases as a result of regulation depends on the relative magnitudes of these gains and losses.

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