Discussion paper

DP15751 Financing Skilled Labor

How does competition for high-skilled workers affect the design and financing of compensation? The paper shows that competition affects compensation structure by leading to more equity-based pay. Such compensation attracts workers by helping them extract higher expected pay when uncertain about firm value. Equity-based compensation reduces firms' need for external financing, but it increases retention risk. Specifically, by making workers dependent on the retention of other workers, equity-based compensation increases the risk that worker turnover becomes contagious. To lower their compensation costs and improve retention, firms with stronger bargaining power favor deferred fixed compensation backed by credit lines.


Vladimirov, V (2021), ‘DP15751 Financing Skilled Labor‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 15751. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp15751