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Skill Uncertainty and Social Inference

Robert J. Oxoby

University of Calgary - Economics; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

January 2007

IZA Discussion Paper No. 2567

Research in psychology indicates that individuals often make inferences regarding unknown individual qualities based on potentially irrelevant (but socially observable) information. This paper explores occupational choices when individuals receive imprecise signals regarding ability and use the observable characteristics of previously successful individuals to infer own ability. Individuals who fail to observe successful predecessors of their same type may underestimate their potential for success in the occupation. We discuss the role of these biases in light of the literature on affirmative action and firm incentives.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 18

Keywords: social Inference, occupational choice, discrimination

JEL Classification: D63, D83, J64, J70

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Date posted: January 29, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Oxoby, Robert J., Skill Uncertainty and Social Inference (January 2007). IZA Discussion Paper No. 2567. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=960018

Contact Information

Robert J. Oxoby (Contact Author)
University of Calgary - Economics ( email )
2500 University Drive, NW
Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4
403-220-2586 (Phone)
403-282-5262 (Fax)
Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Feedback to SSRN

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