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On-the-Job Signaling and Self-Confidence

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  • Francesco Squintani

Abstract

The labour economics literature on signalling assumes workers know their own abilities. Well-settled experimental evidence contradicts that assumption: in the absence of hard facts, subjects are on average overconfident. First we show that in any equilibrium of any signalling model, overconfidence cannot make players better off. In order to obtain more detailed predictions, we then introduce a specific on-the-job signalling model. We show that at fully-separating equilibrium, overconfident workers choose tasks that are too onerous, fail them, and, dejected by such a failure, settle down for a position inferior to their potential. Such a pattern leads to permanent underemployment of workers, and inefficiency of the economy. For the case of unbiased workers uncertain about their own value, we determine a necessary and sufficient condition for the existence of fully-separating equilibrium.

Suggested Citation

  • Francesco Squintani, 1999. "On-the-Job Signaling and Self-Confidence," Discussion Papers 1274, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1274
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    Cited by:

    1. Luis Santos-Pinto, 2011. "Labor Market Signaling and Self-Confidence: Wage Compression and the Gender Pay Gap N.B.: This paper replaces Nr 10.07 "Labor Market Signaling with Overconfident Workers" (June 2010)," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 11.07, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
    2. Konrad, Kai A. & Spadaro, Amedeo, 2006. "Education, redistributive taxation and confidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 171-188, January.
    3. Luís Santos-Pinto, 2012. "Labor Market Signaling and Self-Confidence: Wage Compression and the Gender Pay Gap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(4), pages 873-914.

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