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Human Capital Investment under Asymmetric Information: The Pigovian Conjecture Revisited

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  • Chang, Chun
  • Wang, Yijiang

Abstract

This article investigates how human capital investment, labor turnover, and wages are jointly determined when the current employer knows more about a worker's productivity than potential employers. Results derived are quite different from, or unexplored by, the standard human capital theory. The authors show that the information asymmetry can cause an externality distortion in human capital investment because higher productivity due to the investment may not be recognized by the market. The investment level increases in the degree of firm specificity of human capital. The underinvestment problem is more severe when human capital is general than when it is firm-specific. Copyright 1996 by University of Chicago Press.

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  • Chang, Chun & Wang, Yijiang, 1996. "Human Capital Investment under Asymmetric Information: The Pigovian Conjecture Revisited," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(3), pages 505-519, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:14:y:1996:i:3:p:505-19
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    1. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1119-1158, December.
    2. Gary S. Becker, 1962. "Investment in Human Capital: A Theoretical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 1-9.
    3. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
    4. Michael Waldman, 1984. "Job Assignments, Signalling, and Efficiency," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(2), pages 255-267, Summer.
    5. Parsons, Donald O, 1972. "Specific Human Capital: An Application to Quit Rates and Layoff Rates," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(6), pages 1120-1143, Nov.-Dec..
    6. Dale T. Mortensen, 1978. "Specific Capital and Labor Turnover," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 572-586, Autumn.
    7. Dale T. Mortensen, 1978. "Specific Capital, Bargaining, and Labor Turnover," Discussion Papers 320, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    8. Waldman, Michael, 1990. "Up-or-Out Contracts: A Signaling Perspective," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(2), pages 230-250, April.
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