CAREER: Understanding How Markets Work in Enough Detail So We Can Fix Them When They're Broken

Title: CAREER: Understanding How Markets Work in Enough Detail So We Can Fix Them When They're Broken
Principal Investigator: Muriel Niederle
Dates: August 1, 2008 - July 31, 2013
Sponsor: National Science Foundation

The proposed research consists of theoretical and empirical investigations into how labor markets work and whether they work differently for women and men. It builds on prior NSF grants, and has two major components: gender and matching.

The empirical part of my (collaborative) investigation on gender differences concentrated so far on gender differences in competitive attitudes. The present investigation analyzes theoretical foundations and positive effects of a new model that leads to efficiency gains through affirmative action measures. I also intend to broaden the empirical findings of gender differences beyond competitions, such as differences in choosing between (noncompetitive) hard and easy tasks. Because gender differences are often, in part accounted for by gender differences in confidence, I try to uncover underlying reasons for this lack of a convergence of confidence in the face of ample feedback. I plan to test the explanatory power laboratory findings in the field, and whether changes in institutions can enhance the performances of women and men in a classroom.

The work on matching focused largely on centralized markets, and the effects of different kinds of offers (exploding or not). Here I document, study and implement mechanisms adopted by markets to deal with frictions that limit the number of candidates that can be reviewed or made offers to, cases in which centralized matches are not a feasible or best possible alternate solution.