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Declining Reservation Wages and Learning

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  • Kenneth Burdett
  • Tara Vishwanath

Abstract

Empirical studies of job search strongly suggest that the reservation wages of unemployed job seeking individuals decline with the length of their respective unemployment spells. Previous explanations of this behaviour based on age-effects, liquidity constraints, and limited unemployment benefits are not adequate. We provide a new answer to this question, based on the reasonable assumption that workers do not have precise knowledge of the distribution of the prevailing wages. An individual model of job search and learning is formulated. It is shown that the declining trend of reservation wages naturally arises due to the selection process, when search costs are not too small. The example of a normal wage offer distribution is analysed and the implications are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Kenneth Burdett & Tara Vishwanath, 1988. "Declining Reservation Wages and Learning," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(4), pages 655-665.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:55:y:1988:i:4:p:655-665.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.2307/2297410
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