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Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Screening Device

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  • Barry Nalebuff
  • Andres Rodriguez
  • Joseph E. Stiglitz

Abstract

We present a model of the labor market with asymmetric information in which the equilibrium of the' market generates unemployment and job queues so that wages may serve as an effective screening device. This happens because more productive workers -- within any group of individuals with a given set of observable characteristics -- are more willing to accept the risk of being unemployed than less productive workers. The model is consistent with cyclical movements in average real wages as well as with differences in unemployment rates across different groups in the population. We also show that the market equilibrium is not, in general. constrained Pareto efficient Moreover. we identify a new category of nonexistence problems, different in several essential ways from those earlier discussed by Rothschild-Stiglitz [1976J and Wilson [1977]. We also extend the analysis to incorporate the possibility of renegotiation, showing that a separating-renegotiation-proof-equilibrium exists for certain parameters and that a renegotiation-proof equilibrium is always constrained Pareto efficient Finally, we present a version of the model in which firms enter sequentially, as in Guash and Weiss [1980]. But contrary to the main result in that paper, we show that there is no advantage of being late, provided workers have rational expectations.

Suggested Citation

  • Barry Nalebuff & Andres Rodriguez & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1993. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Screening Device," NBER Working Papers 4357, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4357
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Arnott, Richard & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1986. "Moral hazard and optimal commodity taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 1-24, February.
    2. J. Luis Guasch & Andrew Weiss, 1980. "Adverse Selection by Markets and the Advantage of Being Late," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(3), pages 453-466.
    3. Engers, Maxim & Fernandez, Luis F, 1987. "Market Equilibrium with Hidden Knowledge and Self-selection," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 425-439, March.
    4. Bruce C. Greenwald & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1986. "Externalities in Economies with Imperfect Information and Incomplete Markets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(2), pages 229-264.
    5. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
    6. Harris, John R & Todaro, Michael P, 1970. "Migration, Unemployment & Development: A Two-Sector Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(1), pages 126-142, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Felipe Balmaceda, "undated". "Compensation Methods in Competitive Labor Markets," ILADES-Georgetown University Working Papers inv118, Ilades-Georgetown University, Universidad Alberto Hurtado/School of Economics and Bussines.
    2. Asheim, Geir B. & Nilssen, Tore, 1996. "Non-discriminating renegotiation in a competitive insurance market," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(9), pages 1717-1736, December.
    3. Sami Bibi, 2003. "On The Impact of Labor Tax Reforms on Unemployment in Tunisia," Working Papers 0330, Economic Research Forum, revised 10 Sep 2003.
    4. Bruce Greenwald & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1987. "Money, Imperfect Information and Economic Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 2188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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