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Efficient Non-contractible Investments

Staff Report 253 | Published August 1, 1998

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Andrew Postlewaite

George J. Mailath

photo of Harold L. Cole

Harold L. Cole

Efficient Non-contractible Investments


This paper addresses the question of whether agents will invest efficiently in attributes that will increase their productivity in subsequent matches with other individuals. We present a two-sided matching model in which buyers and sellers make investment decisions prior to a matching stage. Once matched, the buyer and seller bargain over the transfer price. In contrast to most matching models, preferences over possible matches are affected by decisions made before the matching process. We show that if bargaining respects the existence of outside options (in the sense that the resulting allocation is in the core of the assignment game), then efficient decisions can always be sustained in equilibrium. However, there may also be inefficient equilibria. Our analysis identifies a potential source of inefficiency not present in most matching models.