Everyone knows that big firms pay more: that’s why people want to work there. There are a few explanations as to why this might be the case. Maybe big firms make greater rents by exercising market power. maybe they can attract more skilled workers. Maybe there are economies of scale which make them more efficient and increase the productivity of their workers.
A recent study by John Gibson and Steve Stillman has a look at whether it’s attributable to higher skills:
We use the International Adult Literacy Survey, which gives richer skill measures than those typically available in labor market surveys, to measure the BFP in nine countries with and without controls for worker skill. The results show that the BFP is not as universal as is often suggested, but in countries where it exists controlling for skills does little to reduce the size of the BFP.