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Learning When to Say No

Speaker: Professor George W Evans, University of St Andrews

Abstract: We consider boundedly-rational agents in McCall's model of intertemporal job search. Agents update over time their perception of the value of waiting for an additional job offer using value-function learning. A first-principles argument applied to a stationary environment demonstrates asymptotic convergence to fully optimal decision-making. In environments with actual or possible structural change our agents are assumed to discount past data. Using simulations, we consider a change in unemployment benefits, and study the effect of the associated learning dynamics on unemployment and its duration. Separately, in a calibrated exercise we show the potential of our model of bounded rationality to resolve a frictional wage dispersion puzzle.