November 2021

IZA DP No. 14843: Employer Market Power in Silicon Valley

Adam Smith alleged that secret employer collusion to reduce labor earnings is common. This paper examines an important case of such behavior: no-poach agreements through which technology companies agreed not to compete for each other’s workers. Exploiting the plausibly exogenous timing of a US Department of Justice investigation, I estimate the effects of these agreements using a difference-in-differences design. Data from Glassdoor permit the inclusion of rich employer- and job-level controls. Estimates indicate each agreement cost affected workers approximately 2.5 percent of annual salary. Stock bonuses and ratings of job satisfaction were also negatively affected.