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On-the-Job Signaling and Self-Confidence

  • Francesco Squintani

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.

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Paper provided by Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science in its series Discussion Papers with number 1274.

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Date of creation: Aug 1999
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Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1274
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  1. Faruk Gul, 1998. "A Comment on Aumann's Bayesian View," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(4), pages 923-928, July.
  2. Burdett, K. & Mortensen, Dale T., 1981. "Testing for ability in a competitive labor market," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 42-66, August.
  3. Faruk Gul & Hugo Sonnenschein & Robert Wilson, 2010. "Foundations of Dynamic Monopoly and the Coase Conjecture," Levine's Working Paper Archive 232, David K. Levine.
  4. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-90, October.
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  7. John G. Riley, 1974. "Competitive Signalling," UCLA Economics Working Papers 050, UCLA Department of Economics.
  8. Ausubel, Lawrence M & Deneckere, Raymond J, 1992. "Bargaining and the Right to Remain Silent," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(3), pages 597-625, May.
  9. Bengt Holmstrom & Roger B. Myerson, 1981. "Efficient and Durable Decision Rules with Incomplete Information," Discussion Papers 495, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  10. Kohn, Meir G. & Shavell, Steven, 1974. "The theory of search," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 93-123, October.
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  12. van Damme, E.E.C. & Nöldeke, G., 1990. "Signaling in a dynamic labor market," Other publications TiSEM b71cd444-f4c7-4282-bcc8-a, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  13. Mortensen, D.T., 1998. "Equilibrium Unemployment with Wage Posting: Burdett-Mortensen Meet Pissarides," Papers 98-14, Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, Danmark-.
  14. Burdett, Kenneth & Judd, Kenneth L, 1983. "Equilibrium Price Dispersion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(4), pages 955-69, July.
  15. Morris, S. & Shin, H.S., 1995. "The rationality and efficacy of decisions under uncertainty and the value of an experiment," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 9529, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  16. A. Michael Spence, 1977. "Entry, Capacity, Investment and Oligopolistic Pricing," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 8(2), pages 534-544, Autumn.
  17. Guasch, J Luis & Weiss, Andrew, 1980. "Wages as Sorting Mechanisms in Competitive Markets with Asymmetric Information: A Theory of Testing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(4), pages 653-64, July.
  18. Spence, A Michael, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-74, August.
  19. Dubra, J., 1999. "Overconfidence in Search," Working Papers 99-10, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  20. Harsanyi, John C, 1995. "Games with Incomplete Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 291-303, June.
  21. Robert J. Aumann, 1998. "Common Priors: A Reply to Gul," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(4), pages 929-938, July.
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