Market Signaling with Grades

43 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2010 Last revised: 27 Mar 2014

See all articles by Brendan Daley

Brendan Daley

Johns Hopkins University

Brett Green

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School

Date Written: September 13, 2013


We consider a signaling model in which receivers observe both the sender's costly signal as well as a stochastic grade that is correlated with the sender's type. In equilibrium, the sender resolves the trade-off between using the costly signal versus relying on the noisy grade to distinguish himself. We derive a necessary and sufficient condition --- loosely, that the grade is sufficiently informative relative to the dispersion of (marginal) signaling costs across types --- under which the presence of grades substantively alters the equilibrium predictions. Specifically, separating equilibria do not survive stability-based refinements. Instead, the prediction depends on the prior distribution over the sender's type. For example, with two types it involves full pooling when the distribution places sufficient weight on the high type and partial pooling otherwise. Finally, the equilibrium converges to the complete-information outcome as the distribution tends to a degenerate one --- resolving a long-standing paradox within the signaling literature.

Keywords: Signaling, Asymmetric Information, Information Economics

JEL Classification: D82, D83, D41

Suggested Citation

Daley, Brendan and Green, Brett, Market Signaling with Grades (September 13, 2013). Journal of Economic Theory, Vol. 151, No. 1, 2014, Available at SSRN: or

Brendan Daley

Johns Hopkins University ( email )

Baltimore, MD 20036-1984
United States

Brett Green (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States