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Self-Promoting Investments

  • Carolyn Pitchik

When human capital skills differ in their ability to attract offers from alternative employers, a potential inefficiency in human capital investment arises. If a worker's output is observed by the labour market only when the worker invests in self-promoting activities, then high-ability workers overinvest in self-promotion. No bond is posted in the contract that both attains efficient investment and minimizes the bond subject to individual rationality constraints and the zero profit condition. The contract is one in which the firm (i) offers to match outside offers strategically and (ii) guarantees a minimum wage. The model predicts that, under both the spot market contract and the efficient contract, wage declines with seniority even when conditioning on high ability. This prediction is consistent with the stylized fact regarding the decline of wages with seniority in academia. The model can also explain how the seniority wage premium may vary across disciplines, time, and schools.

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Paper provided by University of Toronto, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number tecipa-312.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 25 Mar 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:tecipa-312
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  1. Bernt Bratsberg & James F. Ragan Jr. & John T. Warren, 2003. "Negative Returns to Seniority: New Evidence in Academic Markets," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(2), pages 306-323, January.
  2. Moore, William J & Newman, Robert J & Turnbull, Geoffrey K, 1998. "Do Academic Salaries Decline with Seniority?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 352-66, April.
  3. Siow, Aloysius, 1998. "Tenure and Other Unusual Personnel Practices in Academia," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(1), pages 152-73, April.
  4. Milgrom, Paul & Oster, Sharon, 1987. "Job Discrimination, Market Forces, and the Invisibility Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 453-76, August.
  5. Daron Acemoglu & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1996. "Why Do Firms Train? Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 5605, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
  7. Carmichael, H Lorne, 1988. "Incentives in Academics: Why Is There Tenure?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(3), pages 453-72, June.
  8. MacLeod, W Bentley & Malcomson, James M, 1988. "Reputation and Hierarchy in Dynamic Models of Employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 832-54, August.
  9. Aaron S. Edlin & Stefan Reichelstein, 1995. "Holdups, Standard Breach Remedies, and Optimal Investment," NBER Working Papers 5007, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Ransom, Michael R, 1993. "Seniority and Monopsony in the Academic Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 221-33, March.
  11. Topel, Robert H, 1991. "Specific Capital, Mobility, and Wages: Wages Rise with Job Seniority," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 145-76, February.
  12. Waldman, Michael, 1990. "Up-or-Out Contracts: A Signaling Perspective," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(2), pages 230-50, April.
  13. Bernhardt, Dan & Scoones, David, 1993. "Promotion, Turnover, and Preemptive Wage Offers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 771-91, September.
  14. Joseph Altonji & R. Shakotko, 1985. "Do Wages Rise with Job Seniority?," Working Papers 567, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  15. Edward P. Lazear, 1984. "Raids and Offermatching," NBER Working Papers 1419, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Kevin Hallock, 1994. "Seniority and Monopsony in the Academic Labor Market: Comment," Working Papers 715, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  17. Lorne Carmichael, 1981. "Firm-Specific Human Capital and Promotion Ladders," Working Papers 452, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  18. Gibbons, Robert & Katz, Lawrence F, 1991. "Layoffs and Lemons," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(4), pages 351-80, October.
  19. Zhiqi Chen & J. Stephen Ferris, 1995. "A Theory of Tenure for the Teaching University," Carleton Economic Papers 95-12, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised Jan 1999.
  20. Bernhardt, Dan, 1995. "Strategic Promotion and Compensation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(2), pages 315-39, April.
  21. Milgrom, Paul R, 1988. "Employment Contracts, Influence Activities, and Efficient Organization Design," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(1), pages 42-60, February.
  22. Greenwald, Bruce C, 1986. "Adverse Selection in the Labour Market," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(3), pages 325-47, July.
  23. Ricart i Costa, Joan E, 1988. "Managerial Task Assignment and Promotions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 449-66, March.
  24. Malcomson, James M, 1984. "Work Incentives, Hierarchy, and Internal Labor Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 486-507, June.
  25. Chang, Chun & Wang, Yijiang, 1996. "Human Capital Investment under Asymmetric Information: The Pigovian Conjecture Revisited," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(3), pages 505-19, July.
  26. Lazear, Edward P, 1986. "Salaries and Piece Rates," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(3), pages 405-31, July.
  27. Kahn, Charles & Huberman, Gur, 1988. "Two-sided Uncertainty and "Up-or-Out" Contracts," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(4), pages 423-44, October.
  28. Gale, Douglas & Hellwig, Martin, 1985. "Incentive-Compatible Debt Contracts: The One-Period Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 647-63, October.
  29. Blass, Asher A, 1992. "Does the Baseball Labor Market Contradict the Human Capital Model of Investment?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(2), pages 261-68, May.
  30. Smith Freeman, 1977. "Wage Trends as Performance Displays Productive Potential: A Model and Application to Academic Early Retirement," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 8(2), pages 419-443, Autumn.
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