Re-employment Expectations and the Eye of Providence

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 11/14

Date: 2014


Sonja C. Kassenboehmer
Sonja G. Schatz


Using a nationally representative panel dataset, this study investigates the extent and impact of systematic misconceptions of the currently unemployed concerning their statistical re-employment probability, affecting their labor market behavior in a sub-optimal way. Specifically, people with unemployment experience of 3 to 5 years significantly underestimate their objective re-employment probabilities as determined by the econometrician’s all-seeing ‘Eye of Providence’. Simply having information concerning the individuals’ previous unemployment experience is sufficient to make more accurate predictions than the individuals themselves. People who underestimate their re-employment probability are less likely to search actively for a job and indeed more likely to exit the labor force. If re-employed, they are more likely to accept lower wages, work fewer hours, work part-time and experience lower levels of job satisfaction. This information can be used by employment agency case workers to counsel clients better and prevent client adverse behavior and outcomes.

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  • Job insecurity, re-employment expectations, prediction errors