To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Decomposing the structure of wages into firm and worker effects: Some insights from a high unemployment economy

Yolanda F. Rebollo-Sanz (Department of Economics, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla, Spain)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 7 August 2017



The purpose of this paper is to show that for some key topics on labour economics such as the effect of seniority and job mobility in wages, it is important to explicitly consider firm fixed effects. The author also wants to test whether the importance of firm in explaining wage dispersion is higher or lower in Spain than in other European countries.


The author estimates an individual wage equation where firm and workers effects are considered and the estimation process control for censored wages. This exercise is performed for the Spanish economy over the course of a whole business cycle, i.e., 2000-2015.


The author demonstrates that Spanish firms contribute to explain around 27 per cent of the individual wage heterogeneity but more importantly around 74 per cent of inter-industry wage differentials. In both cases, this contribution is mainly related to large dispersion in firm’s wage policies. The process of positive sorting of workers across firms or industries does not play an important role. Interestingly, the importance of firm’s wage policies in explaining individual wage dispersion has increased over the current Big Recession.

Practical implications

The results confirm that firms set wages and, henceforth, are partially responsible for individual wage heterogeneity but more importantly for inter-industrial wage dispersion.


The exercise is performed under optimal conditions because the author uses a longitudinal matched employer-employee data set, observed wages are at a monthly frequency, and implements an estimation method suitable for censored models with two high-dimensional fixed effects. This is the first study that looks deeply into the role of firms in explaining wage heterogeneity at the individual and industry level in Spain and along the current Big Recession.



Rebollo-Sanz, Y.F. (2017), "Decomposing the structure of wages into firm and worker effects: Some insights from a high unemployment economy", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 38 No. 5, pp. 765-787.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited