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Adverse Selection in Competitive Search Equilibrium


  • Veronica Guerrieri
  • Robert Shimer
  • Randall Wright


We extend the concept of competitive search equilibrium to environments with private information, and in particular adverse selection. Principals (e.g. employers or agents who want to buy assets) post contracts, which we model as revelation mechanisms. Agents (e.g. workers, or asset holders) have private information about the potential gains from trade. Agents observe the posted contracts and decide where to apply, trading off the contracts' terms of trade against the probability of matching, which depends in general on the principals' capacity constraints and market search frictions. We characterize equilibrium as the solution to a constrained optimization problem, and prove that principals offer separating contracts to attract different types of agents. We then present a series of applications, including models of signaling, insurance, and lemons. These illustrate the usefulness and generality of the approach, and serve to contrast our findings with standard results in both the contract and search literatures.
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Suggested Citation

  • Veronica Guerrieri & Robert Shimer & Randall Wright, 2010. "Adverse Selection in Competitive Search Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(6), pages 1823-1862, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:78:y:2010:i:6:p:1823-1862

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nosal, Ed & Wallace, Neil, 2007. "A model of (the threat of) counterfeiting," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 994-1001, May.
    2. Veronica Guerrieri, 2008. "Inefficient Unemployment Dynamics under Asymmetric Information," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(4), pages 667-708, August.
    3. Kenneth Burdett & Shouyong Shi & Randall Wright, 2001. "Pricing and Matching with Frictions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(5), pages 1060-1085, October.
    4. Moen, Espen R, 1997. "Competitive Search Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 385-411, April.
    5. Alberto Bisin & Piero Gottardi, 2006. "Efficient Competitive Equilibria with Adverse Selection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(3), pages 485-516, June.
    6. Inderst, Roman & Wambach, Achim, 2001. "Competitive insurance markets under adverse selection and capacity constraints," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(10), pages 1981-1992, December.
    7. Delacroix, Alain & Shi, Shouyong, 2013. "Pricing and signaling with frictions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(4), pages 1301-1332.
    8. Faig, Miquel & Jerez, Belen, 2005. "A theory of commerce," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 60-99, May.
    9. Moen, Espen R & Rosén, Åsa, 2006. "Incentives in Competitive Search Equilibrium and Wage Rigidity," CEPR Discussion Papers 5554, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers


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