Jan Eeckhout is the recipient of a European Research Council Advanced Grant for his project, Labor Market Risk and Skill Diversity. In this short video, Eeckhout talks about the project’s objectives, challenges, and potential impact.
Labor market risk and skill diversity are central features of the labor market. Arguably, employment risk is one of the biggest sources of uncertainty most individuals face in their life time. Likewise, exploiting the synergies and complementarities between differentially skilled workers is amongst the greatest challenges to firms’ hiring decisions. The objective is to analyze the efficiency properties and as a consequence evaluate the role for policy. In order to establish the implications of the mechanisms that govern risk and diversity, I elaborate on concrete applications and discuss estimation in different labor market settings.
In the presence of Labor Market Risk I address the question how asset holdings exacerbate wage inequality. Workers are exposed to the risk of unemployment, and workers with few assets will trade off the lower riskiness of a job against lower wages. Different asset holdings translate into different wages, thus amplifying inequality due to assets with wage inequality. The proposed analysis of unemployment risk can solve for an equilibrium model that incorporates the distribution of assets, while at the same time allowing for heterogeneity in skills. There is no doubt that fully understanding the asset-skill tradeoff is of primary importance for labor market policy. I then study a different angle of labor market risk, namely risk that is due to matching stochastic types, which introduces ex post mismatch. Ex ante, agents match based on the distribution of possible realizations of ex post types. This model is conducive to identification of complementarities between workers and the value of risk sharing.
Skill Diversity, or the allocation of differentially skilled workers across firms of different productivity, is a central feature of the labor market. The aim of this research is to embed the optimal worker composition within firms into standard macro environments to study technological change, information aggregation and spatial diversity.