Thomas Le Barbanchon, an ERC Grant to Understand Job Searches
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Thomas Le Barbanchon, an ERC Grant to Understand Job Searches

HIS PROJECT WILL USE DATA FROM ONLINE JOB LISTING BOARDS WHICH RECORD SEARCH ACTIVITIES IN DETAIL, THUS PROVIDING WITH EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE A FIELD WHERE THEORETICAL CONTRIBUTIONS ABOUND, BUT EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE IS STILL SCARCE

Literature on search strategies of job seekers and recruiters in the labor market is rich in theoretical contributions but short in empirical evidence. That’s the gap Thomas Le Barbanchon, an Assistant Professor at Bocconi’s Department of Economics, is going to fill in the next 60 months with ESEARCH, Direct Empirical Evidence on Labor Market Search Theories, the research project that has earned him a ERC Starting Grant, the funding the European Research Council grants, on a competitive basis, to scholars at an early stage of their careers.
 
“If, in the past, empirical data on job searches were difficult to collect, we will leverage the opportunities offered by online boards, which record search activities in detail”, Prof. Le Barbanchon says. “Matching these data with administrative data from unemployment-employment registers, we will be able to jointly observe search activity and core economic outcomes, such as wage and job duration, on very large samples”.
 
The project will use data from Swedish and French online boards, which are managed by public agencies and list vacancies both in the private and public sector, covering more than half the jobs offered in the two countries. His main research partners will be Roland Rathelot (University of Warwick), Lena Hensvik (IFAU, Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy, Uppsala) and Alexandra Roulet (INSEAD).
 
The multiple aims of the project include estimating search costs of job seekers and recruiters and the extent of mismatch on the labor market; singling out the roots of search inefficiencies; estimating the effects of search subsidies on search strategies, such as estimating the effect of unemployment insurance generosity on the search strategy of job seekers. “But our hope is to give a contribution to the reduction of frictional unemployment by helping policy-makers to design better job boards and search subsidies”, Prof. Le Barbanchon concludes.
 
The grant, worth 1.25 mln euros, will be hosted by Bocconi’s Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research (IGIER).
 
After a PhD from Ecole Polytechnique (Palaiseau, France) and a post-doc position at the Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique (CREST), Le Barbanchon joined Bocconi’s Department of Economics in 2015. His research interests are mostly empirical (in labor economics and public finance) though he also likes formal economic and econometric models. He is interested in how labor markets work (job search and matching, labor flows, discrimination) and how they are influenced by institutions (labor contracts, unemployment insurance). Some of his publications look at the two-tier labor markets in France and Spain in the great recession, at the evaluation of labor market policy in equilibrium, at the unintended effects of anonymous resumes, and at the effects of the unemployment insurance generosity on job finding and quality.
 
In a paper recently accepted by Journal of Public Economics, Le Barbanchon investigates the effect of unemployment insurance on reservation wages (the lowest wage a worker is willing to accept), while in a paper submitted to Review of Economic Studies he measures the effectiveness of hiring credits, using French data.

by Fabio Todesco
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