Recent graduate James Boudreau, advised by Vicki Knoblauch, will publish the paper “Stratification and Growth in Agent-Based Matching Markets” in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. The relationship between economic mobility and growth has long been a focus of economists’ attention, and James’ paper contributes to that literature by emphasizing the dynamic impacts of two-sided matching.
The model economy in the paper features heterogeneous agents that compete in an intergenerational match game for employment. Agents known as workers make productivity-enhancing investments, using their endowed wealth to add to pre-existing ability levels as they compete to match with other agents known as firms. A novel feature of the model is its use of the market’s matching process as an evolutionary fitness selection mechanism. Workers that are unable to find a match drop out of the population and thus do not contribute to current or future productive capacity. Those that do match are able to pass on their attributes, but in a manner that is not fully deterministic. Because of the stochastic element to inheritance, results are arrived at by way of agent-based simulations. Even with perfect information and substantial variety in both offspring and entrants, two-sided matching inevitably causes the population to evolve into stratified groups. Corrective measures are possible to improve mobility, but by altering the path of market evolution, a policy may have unintended impacts on growth and inequality.