Working Papers

[1] Equilibrium Contracts and Boundedly Rational Expectations, joint with Heidi Christina Thysen [pdf]

We study a principal-agent framework in which the agent forms beliefs based on a misspecified subjective model of the principal’s project. She fits this model to the objective probability distribution to predict output under alternative actions. Misspecifications in the subjective model may lead to biased beliefs. However, under mild restrictions, the agent has correct beliefs on the equilibrium path so that the optimal contract is non-exploitative. This allows for a behavioral version of the informativeness principle: The optimal contract conditions on an additional variable only if it is informative about the action according to the agent’s subjective model. We further characterize when misspecifications affect the optimal contract. One implication of this characterization is that the scope for belief biases depends on the agent’s job, e.g., her position in the hierarchy.

[2] Reservation Wages and Labor Supply, joint with Iris Kesternich, Bettina Siflinger, and Franziska Valder [pdf]

Survey measures of the reservation wage reflect both the consumption-leisure trade-off and job search concerns (the arrival rate of job offers and the wage distribution). We examine what a survey measure of the reservation wage reveals about labor supply when search concerns are absent. To this end, we combine the reservation wage measure from a large labor market survey with the reservation wage for a one-hour job that we elicit in an online experiment. The two measures show a strong positive association. For unemployed individuals, the experimental reservation wage increases on average by around one Euro for every Euro increase in the survey measure. For employed individuals, the association between the two measures is weaker, but still positive and statistically significant. We show that these results are robust to selection into the experiment, and that demographic variables have a similar influence on both reservation wage measures.