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Social comparisons in job search

Fu, Jingcheng; Sefton, Martin; Upward, Richard


Jingcheng Fu


© 2019 Elsevier B.V. Using a laboratory experiment we examine how social comparisons affect behavior in a sequential search task. In a control treatment subjects search in isolation, while in two other treatments subjects get feedback on the search decisions and outcomes of a partner subject. The average level and rate of decline of reservation wages are similar across treatments. Nevertheless, subjects who are able to make social comparisons search differently from those who search in isolation. Within a search task we observe a reference wage effect: when a partner exits, the subject chooses a new reservation wage which is increasing in partner income. We also observe a social comparison effect between search tasks: subjects whose partners in a previous task searched for longer choose a higher reservation wage in the next task. Our findings imply that the provision of social information can change job-seekers search behavior.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2019-12
Journal Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Print ISSN 0167-2681
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 168
Pages 338-361
APA6 Citation Fu, J., Sefton, M., & Upward, R. (2019). Social comparisons in job search. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 168, 338-361.
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This file is under embargo until Apr 23, 2021 due to copyright restrictions.

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