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Underpaid and Overworked: Measuring the Effect of Imperfect Information on Wages


  • Hofler, Richard A
  • Murphy, Kevin J


This paper investigates the degree of shortfall between the wages workers earn and what they could earn assuming perfect or costless information in the labor market. The authors use the stochastic frontier regression technique to estimate the degree of shortfall found in wages on an individual basis. The paper tests, in addition, a number of hypotheses supplied by search theory in this context. The results generally confirm the propositions from search theory and indicate that, on the average, worker wages fall short of worker potential wages by approximately 10 percent. Copyright 1992 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Hofler, Richard A & Murphy, Kevin J, 1992. "Underpaid and Overworked: Measuring the Effect of Imperfect Information on Wages," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(3), pages 511-529, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:30:y:1992:i:3:p:511-29

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eckbo, B. Espen, 1983. "Horizontal mergers, collusion, and stockholder wealth," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1-4), pages 241-273, April.
    2. Ordover, Janusz A & Saloner, Garth & Salop, Steven C, 1990. "Equilibrium Vertical Foreclosure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 127-142, March.
    3. Michael A. Salinger, 1988. "Vertical Mergers and Market Foreclosure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(2), pages 345-356.
    4. Jensen, Michael C. & Ruback, Richard S., 1983. "The market for corporate control : The scientific evidence," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1-4), pages 5-50, April.
    5. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
    6. Allen, Bruce T, 1971. "Vertical Integration and Market Foreclosure: The Case of Cement and Concrete," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 251-274, April.
    7. Dodd, Peter, 1980. "Merger proposals, management discretion and stockholder wealth," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 105-137, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Yi-Yi & Wang, Hung-Jen, 2004. "A method of moments estimator for a stochastic frontier model with errors in variables," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 221-228, November.
    2. Ihlanfeldt, Keith R., 1997. "Information on the Spatial Distribution of Job Opportunities within Metropolitan Areas," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 218-242, March.
    3. Webber, Douglas A., 2015. "Firm market power and the earnings distribution," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 123-134.
    4. Carmen Garcia Prieto & Angel Martin Roman & Carlos Perez Dominguez, 2005. "Actual and Potential Returns to Schooling in Spain," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(4), pages 387-407.
    5. repec:dgr:rugsom:98d26 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Vera A. Adamchik & Josef C. Brada & Arthur E. King, 2009. "Are Transition Economy Workers Underpaid?," Working Papers 278, Leibniz Institut für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung (Institute for East and Southeast European Studies).
    7. Polachek, Solomon W., 2008. "Earnings Over the Life Cycle: The Mincer Earnings Function and Its Applications," Foundations and Trends(R) in Microeconomics, now publishers, vol. 4(3), pages 165-272, April.
    8. Polachek, Solomon W. & Robst, John, 1998. "Employee labor market information: comparing direct world of work measures of workers' knowledge to stochastic frontier estimates," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 231-242, June.
    9. John Robst & Kimmarie McGOLDRICK, 1999. "The Measurement of Firm Information About Product Demand," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 15(2), pages 149-163, September.
    10. Bazen, Stephen & Waziri, Khalid Maman, 2017. "The Assimilation of Young Workers into the Labour Market in France: A Stochastic Earnings Frontier Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 10841, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Peter Dawson & Timothy Hinks & Duncan Watson, 2001. "German Wage Underpayment: An Investigation into Labor Market Inefficiency and Discrimination," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 70(1), pages 107-114.
    12. M. Ángeles Díaz & Rosario Sánchez, 2013. "Young Workers, Marital Status And Wage Gap," Revista de Economia Aplicada, Universidad de Zaragoza, Departamento de Estructura Economica y Economia Publica, vol. 21(1), pages 57-70, Spring.
    13. Dijk, Jouke van, 1998. "Differences in underemployment between the United States and the Netherlands," Research Report 98D26, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    14. Atul Dar, 2014. "The Impact of Imperfect Information on the Wages of Native-Born and Immigrant Workers: Evidence from the 2006 Canadian Census," Proceedings of Economics and Finance Conferences 0401532, International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences.
    15. Wang, Hung-Jen, 2006. "Stochastic frontier models," MPRA Paper 31079, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Gentry, William M. & Hubbard, R. Glenn, 2004. "The effects of progressive income taxation on job turnover," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(11), pages 2301-2322, September.

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