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Title: Essays on firms and employee compensation
Author: Adrjan, Pawel
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 7486
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This DPhil thesis is a collection of three empirical papers that study the role of firms in the UK labour market. Each chapter focuses on firms at different points in their lifecycle. Young firms are an engine of job creation but little is known about the quality of the jobs that they offer. In Chapter 1, I use a matched employer-employee dataset to study how starting wages and lifecycle earnings of employees differ between young and mature firms. I find that young firms pay a small premium to new hires, but subsequent wage growth is better at mature firms, both within continuing job matches and when individuals change jobs. Crucially, highly-paid and stable jobs at young firms have become increasingly rare over time, as young firms themselves have become less likely to survive and attain high productivity levels - both in absolute terms and relative to mature firms over the same period. Policies that aim to stimulate job growth by encouraging the formation of new firms should therefore pay close attention to the types of firms that form. Chapter 2 asks what determines the proportion of a firm's income that workers receive as compensation. I use longitudinal firm data from a period of substantial labour share variation to understand the firm-level determinants of the labor share of income - a question that has typically only been addressed with country- and sector-level data. Estimating a dynamic model using GMM, I find that firms with greater market power and a higher ratio of capital to labour allocate a smaller proportion of their value added to workers. Testing the impact of tangible and intangible capital on low- and high-wage firms leads to conclusions consistent with the hypothesis of capital-skill complementarity. Overall, the results suggest that firm-level drivers play a key role in the evolution of the aggregate labour share, which has declined significantly since the 1970s. Chapter 3 co-authored with Brian Bell, focuses on mature firms and asks how wages at such firms respond to idiosyncratic firm-level cost shocks. We create a unique dataset that links longitudinal data on workers' compensation to the unexpected costs related to firms' legacy defined benefit pension plans. We show that firms are able to share the burden of such costs when a significant share of their workers are current or former members of the plan. We also find that firms that respond to deficits by closing down the pension plans effectively reduce the total compensation of plan members. These results point to significant frictions in the labour market, which we show are a direct result of the pension arrangement that workers have. Yet closing schemes has an implicit cost for firms, since it reduces the frictions that workers face, and increases mobility.
Supervisor: Bell, Brian D. ; Bond, Stephen R. Sponsor: ESRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Economics ; Labour Economics ; Market Power ; Pensions ; Wages ; Employment ; Compensation ; Start-ups