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Ability, Self-Confidence, and Search


  • Sjur Didrik Flåm
  • Alf Erling Risa


We explore optimal search for individual improvement when agents start with different confidence in their own ability. The initial self-confidence may be determined by nature or socioeconomic factors. Presuming Bayesian learning, we show that final achievements depend positively on initial confidence. When parents' achievements affect children's self-confidence, a meritocracy, not necessarily founded on ability, may emerge. Social differences may thus stem from - and maintain - unjustifiable opinions about ability differentials.

Suggested Citation

  • Sjur Didrik Flåm & Alf Erling Risa, 2003. "Ability, Self-Confidence, and Search," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 159(3), pages 439-439, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:mhr:jinste:urn:sici:0932-4569(200309)159:3_439:asas_2.0.tx_2-d

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rothschild, Michael, 1974. "Searching for the Lowest Price When the Distribution of Prices Is Unknown," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(4), pages 689-711, July/Aug..
    2. Fanizza, Domenico, 1996. "Employment cycles in search equilibrium," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 879-904, May.
    3. Diamond, Peter A, 1982. "Aggregate Demand Management in Search Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 881-894, October.
    4. Futia, Carl A, 1982. "Invariant Distributions and the Limiting Behavior of Markovian Economic Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(2), pages 377-408, March.
    5. Antonio E. Bernardo & Ivo Welch, 2001. "On the Evolution of Overconfidence and Entrepreneurs," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(3), pages 301-330, September.
    6. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-990, October.
    7. Rosenfield, Donald B. & Shapiro, Roy D., 1981. "Optimal adaptive price search," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 1-20, August.
    8. Michael Rothschild, 1974. "Searching for the Lowest Price When the Distribution of Prices Is Unknown: A Summary," NBER Chapters,in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 3, number 1, pages 293-294 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Konrad, Kai A. & Spadaro, Amedeo, 2006. "Education, redistributive taxation and confidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 171-188, January.
    2. Falk, Armin & Huffman, David B. & Sunde, Uwe, 2006. "Do I Have What It Takes? Equilibrium Search with Type Uncertainty and Non-Participation," IZA Discussion Papers 2531, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness


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