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This study undertakes a systematic experimental investigation of hysteresis (path dependency) in an agent-based computational labor market framework. It is shown that capacity asymmetries between work suppliers and employers can result in two distinct hysteresis effects, network and-behavioral, when work suppliers and employers interact strategically and evolve their work site behaviors over time. These hysteresis effects result in persistent heterogeneity in earnings and employment histories across agents who have no observable structural differences. At a more global level, these hysteresis effects are shown to result in a one-to-many mapping between treatment factors and experimental outcomes. These hysteresis effects may help to explain why excess earnings heterogeneity is commonly observed in real-world labor markets.

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This report has been published in, Evolutionary Computation in Economics and Finance, Studies in Fuzziness and Soft Computing Volume 100, 2002, pp 189-210