Labor Market Signaling and Self-Confidence: Wage Compression and the Gender Pay Gap
I extend Spence's signaling model by assuming that some workers are overconfident--they underestimate their marginal cost of acquiring education--and some are underconfident. Firms cannot observe workers' productive abilities and beliefs but know the fractions of high-ability, overconfident, and underconfident workers. I find that biased beliefs lower the wage spread and compress the wages of unbiased workers. I show that gender differences in self-confidence can contribute to the gender pay gap. If education raises productivity, men are overconfident, and women underconfident, then women will, on average, earn less than men. Finally, I show that biased beliefs can improve welfare.
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