Department of Economics and Business Economics

Overconfidence in Labor Markets

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This chapter reviews how worker overconfidence affects labor markets. Evidence from psychology and economics shows that in many situations, most people tend to overestimate their absolute skills, overplace themselves relative to others, and overestimate the precision of their knowledge. The chapter starts by reviewing evidence for overconfidence and for how overconfidence affects economic choices. Next, it reviews economic explanations for overconfidence. After that, it discusses research on the impact of worker overconfidence on labor markets where wages are determined by bargaining between workers and firms. Here, three key questions are addressed. First, how does worker overconfidence affect effort provision for a fixed compensation scheme? Second, how should firms design compensation schemes when workers are overconfident? In particular, will a compensation scheme offered to an overconfident worker have higher- or lower-powered incentives than that offered to a worker with accurate self-perception? Third, can worker overconfidence lead to a Pareto improvement? The chapter continues by reviewing research on the impact of worker overconfidence on labor markets where workers can move between firms and where neither firms nor workers have discretion over wage setting. The chapter concludes with a summary of its main findings and a discussion of avenues for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Labor, Human Resources and Population Economics
EditorsK. Zimmermann
Number of pages42
Place of publicationCham
Publication year11 Aug 2020
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-57365-6
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2020

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