Empirical labor search: A survey

Zvi Eckstein, Gerard J. van den Berg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


This paper surveys the existing empirical research that uses search theory to empirically analyze labor supply questions in a structural framework, using data on individual labor market transitions and durations, wages, and individual characteristics. The starting points of the literature are the Mincerian earnings function, Heckman's classic selection model, and dynamic optimization theory. We develop a general framework for the labor market where the search for a job involves dynamic decision making under uncertainty. It can be specialized to be in agreement with most published research using labor search models. We discuss estimation, policy evaluation with the estimated model, equilibrium model versions, and the decomposition of wage variation into factors due to heterogeneity of various model determinants as well as search frictions themselves. We summarize the main empirical conclusions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-564
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Econometrics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007


  • Equilibrium wage distribution
  • Job mobility
  • Job search
  • Reservation wage
  • Unemployment


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