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Great Expectations: Past Wages and Unemployment Durations

  • René Böheim
  • Gerard Thomas Horvath
  • Rudolf Winter-Ebmer

Decomposing wages into worker and firm wage components, we find that firm-fixed components (firm rents) are sizeable parts of workers' wages. If workers can only imperfectly observe the extent of firm rents in their wages, they might be mislead about the overall wage distribution. Such misperceptions may lead to unjustified high reservation wages, resulting in overly long unemployment durations. We examine the infuence of previous wages on unemployment durations for workers after exogenous lay-offs and, using Austrian administrative data, we find that younger workers are, in fact, unemployed longer if they profited from high firm rents in the past. We interpret our findings as evidence for overconfidence generated by imperfectly observed productivity.

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Paper provided by The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series NRN working papers with number 2010-07.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:jku:nrnwps:2010_07
Contact details of provider: Postal: NRN Labor Economics and the Welfare State, c/o Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, Altenbergerstr. 69, 4040 Linz
Phone: +43-732-2468-8216
Fax: +43-732-2468-8217
Web page: http://www.labornrn.at/
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