LERA Plenary and Featured Speaker: What the Big Data Revolution Tells Us About the Real World of Labor Markets and Labor Institutions

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 6, 2017 4:45 PM – 5:45 PM

Hyatt Regency Chicago, Regency C
Hosted By: Labor and Employment Relations Association
  • Chair: Katharine G. Abraham, University of Maryland

What the Big Data Revolution Tells Us About the Real World of Labor Markets and Labor Institutions

Richard B. Freeman
,
Harvard University

Abstract

The ability to analyze the employment and earnings of millions of workers in cross section and longitudinal data provides a new lens for labor researchers to see what labor markets do in reality and to examine standard models of market clearing and labor institutions and policies on outcomes. I will describe the big data revolution in labor economics and industrial relation and then examine studies of the variation in earnings and network of job moves that show the way the market has fractured/fissured in wages and mobility. I argue that analysis of data on millions of US workers in tens of thousand of firms over time shows that administered/bargained wages and greater voice for worker inside firms are more likely to yield the desirable results of an ideal competitive market than the current system in which firms determine wages and working conditions subject to market constraints.
JEL Classifications
  • J0 - General