Staff Reports
Rational Inattention in Hiring Decisions
Number 878
February 2019

JEL classification: D8, E32, J63, J64

Authors: Sushant Acharya and Shu Lin Wee

We provide an information-based theory of matching efficiency fluctuations. Rationally inattentive firms have limited capacity to process information and cannot perfectly identify suitable applicants. During recessions, higher losses from hiring unsuitable workers cause firms to be more selective in hiring. When firms cannot obtain sufficient information about applicants, they err on the side of caution and accept fewer applicants to minimize losses from hiring unsuitable workers. Pro-cyclical acceptance rates drive a wedge between meeting and hiring rates, explaining fluctuations in matching efficiency. Quantitatively, our model replicates the joint behavior of unemployment rates and matching efficiency observed since the Great Recession.

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AUTHOR DISCLOSURE STATEMENT(S)
Sushant Acharya
I declare that I have no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in this paper.

Shu Lin Wee
I declare that I have no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in this paper.