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Labor Market Signaling with Overconfident Workers N.B.: This paper is replaced by Nr 11.07 "Labor Market Signaling and Self-Confidence: Wage Compression and the Gender Pay Gap" (December 2011)


  • Luis Santos-Pinto


I extend Spence's (1974) labor market signaling model by assuming some workers are overconfident and some underconfident. Overconfident (underconfident) workers underestimate (overestimate) their marginal cost of acquiring education. Firms cannot observe workers' productive abilities and cannot observe workers' beliefs. However, firms know the fraction of overconfident, underconfident, and high-ability workers in the economy. I find that the presence of overconfident and/or underconfident workers in the labor market compresses wages. I show that workers' biased beliefs reduce welfare when workers are sufficiently different in terms of productivity and cost of education. Finally, I show that if the fraction of overconfident workers is relatively low and workers are sufficiently similar in terms of productivity and cost of education, then biased beliefs improve welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Luis Santos-Pinto, 2010. "Labor Market Signaling with Overconfident Workers N.B.: This paper is replaced by Nr 11.07 "Labor Market Signaling and Self-Confidence: Wage Compression and the Gender Pay Gap" (December 201," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 10.07, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  • Handle: RePEc:lau:crdeep:10.07

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2006. "Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 505-540.
    2. Carl M. Campbell III & Kunal S. Kamlani, 1997. "The Reasons for Wage Rigidity: Evidence from a Survey of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 759-789.
    3. Fang, Hanming & Moscarini, Giuseppe, 2005. "Morale hazard," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 749-777, May.
    4. Alvaro Sandroni & Francesco Squintani, 2007. "Overconfidence, Insurance, and Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1994-2004, December.
    5. Lindquist, Matthew J., 2005. "The welfare costs of union wage compression," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 639-658, April.
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    More about this item


    signaling; labor market; behavioral biases; wages; education;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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