In Spence's Job Market Signaling paper (a non-paywalled version is available here) firms observe applicants' educational investment. From these signals the firms glean information on the "type" or productivity of the applicants, the idea being that if one was able to suffer through Multi-dimensional Numerical Marketing Synergies in Corporate Finance and get a decent grade one is likely to do well at work unrelated to the subject as long as it requires similar intellectual capabilities and endurance.

It occured to me that completing work related tasks while caring for a small child would also say a lot about one's endurance (not sure about intellect, perhaps that too). There are some obvious difficulties, such as the cost of caring being split between two people, idiosyncratic postpartum symptoms, measuring how well the tasks were completed etc. One could argue similar problems exist w.r.t. educational investment.

Has there been academic research on this?

Googling around on Scholar reveals little, as there are tons of research for some combinations of the keywords: income + children, signaling + children, etc.

  • $\begingroup$ With "research on this" you mean research on similar (to the caring context) problems with the Spence model's context? Or do you mean research on child caring as a job market signal? $\endgroup$
    – VARulle
    Mar 15, 2021 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ @VARulle I was thinking specifically of caring for babies, as it seems to require more endurance than studying late for some exams, but I am also open to research on different signals as long as they are similarly taxing. $\endgroup$
    – Giskard
    Mar 15, 2021 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting question, but I also know nothing and found nothing... So, in a toy model, high-endurance types return to work ("complete work-related tasks") quickly, while low-endurance types take parental leave for a few years - is that what you mean? Could be hard to disentangle the signalling effect from the added on-the-job training of the high-endurance type then. $\endgroup$
    – VARulle
    Mar 16, 2021 at 8:59
  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking more about what happened when people returned to work, could they juggle their roles succesfully. $\endgroup$
    – Giskard
    Mar 16, 2021 at 9:35


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