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Does Speed Signal Ability , A Test of Spence's Theory


  • Thomas O. BRODATY


  • Robert J. GARY-BOBO


  • Ana PRIETO



We propose a new test for the presence of job-market signaling in the sense of Spence(1973), based on an extension of the Mincerian log-wage equation. We test the assumptionthat employers are fully informed about relevant worker characteristics vs incomplete infor-mation (i.e., signaling). Our test is based on a variable called delay, de¯ned as the residualof a regression of school-leaving age on the worker's highest degree. Making use of variousinstruments, we ¯nd a robust, signi¯cant and negative impact of delay on wages, averaged overthe ¯rst ¯ve years of career. A year of delay causes a 9% decrease of the student's wage, whileat the same time, returns to education are positive with standard values. We show that theassumption of fully informed employers is not compatible with this e®ect. The only reasonableexplanation, supported by the data, is the fact that longer delays signal unobserved but neg-ative characteristics. We ¯nally estimate a nonlinear model of education choices and cannotreject the assumption that the data is generated by a job-market signaling equilibrium.

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  • Thomas O. BRODATY & Robert J. GARY-BOBO & Ana PRIETO, 2009. "Does Speed Signal Ability , A Test of Spence's Theory," Working Papers 2009-02, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.
  • Handle: RePEc:crs:wpaper:2009-02

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Card & Raj Chetty & Andrea Weber, 2007. "The Spike at Benefit Exhaustion: Leaving the Unemployment System or Starting a New Job?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 113-118, May.
    2. Duflo, Esther & Glennerster, Rachel & Kremer, Michael, 2008. "Using Randomization in Development Economics Research: A Toolkit," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier.
    3. Ashenfelter, Orley & Ashmore, David & Deschenes, Olivier, 2005. "Do unemployment insurance recipients actively seek work? Evidence from randomized trials in four U.S. States," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 53-75.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carolina Castagnetti & Silvia Dal Bianco & Luisa Rosti, 2011. "Shortening university career fades the signal away. Evidence from Italy," Quaderni di Dipartimento 146, University of Pavia, Department of Economics and Quantitative Methods.
    2. Triventi, Moris, 2014. "Does working during higher education affect students’ academic progression?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 1-13.

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