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Labor Market Signaling with Overconfident Workers

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  • Luis Santos-Pinto

Abstract

I extend Spence's (1974) labor market signaling model by assuming some workers are overconfident and some underconfident. Overconfident (underconfident) workers underestimate (overestimate) their marginal cost of acquiring education. Firms cannot observe workers' productive abilities and cannot observe workers' beliefs. However, firms know the fraction of overconfident, underconfident, and high-ability workers in the economy. I find that the presence of overconfident and/or underconfident workers in the labor market compresses wages. I show that workers' biased beliefs reduce welfare when workers are sufficiently different in terms of productivity and cost of education. Finally, I show that if the fraction of overconfident workers is relatively low and workers are sufficiently similar in terms of productivity and cost of education, then biased beliefs improve welfare.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP in its series Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) with number 10.07.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:lau:crdeep:10.07

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Postal: Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP, Internef, CH-1015 Lausanne
Phone: ++41 21 692.33.64
Fax: ++41 21 692.33.05
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Web page: http://www.hec.unil.ch/deep/publications/cahiers/series
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Keywords: signaling; labor market; behavioral biases; wages; education;

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  1. Laibson, David I. & Gabaix, Xavier, 2006. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," Scholarly Articles 4554333, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Alvaro Sandroni & Francesco Squintani, 2007. "Overconfidence, Insurance, and Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1994-2004, December.
  3. Hanming Fang & Giuseppe Moscarini, 2004. "Morale Hazard," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm386, Yale School of Management.
  4. Lindquist, Matthew J., 2005. "The welfare costs of union wage compression," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 639-658, April.
  5. Campbell, Carl M, III & Kamlani, Kunal S, 1997. "The Reasons for Wage Rigidity: Evidence from a Survey of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 759-89, August.
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