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Deferred Compensation in Multiperiod Labor Contracts: An Experimental Test of Lazear's Model

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  • Steffen Huck
  • Andrew J. Seltzer
  • Brian Wallace

Abstract

This paper provides the first experimental test of Edward Lazear's (1979) model of deferred compensation. We examine the relationship between firms' wage offers and workers' effort supply in a multi-period environment. If firms can ex ante commit to a wage schedule with deferred compensation, workers should respond by supplying sufficient effort to avoid dismissal. We contrast this full-commitment case to controls with no commitment and computer-generated wages in order to examine the roles of monetary incentives, social preferences, and reciprocity. Finally, we examine a setup without formal commitment, but where firms can build a reputation for paying deferred wages. (JEL D86, J22, J31, J33, J41)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 101 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 819-43

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:2:p:819-43

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  1. Miettinen, Topi, 2008. "Contracts and Promises - An Approach to Pre-play Agreements," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 707, Stockholm School of Economics.
  2. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  3. Jagadeesh Gokhale & Erica L. Groshen & David Neumark, 1993. "Do Hostile Takeovers Reduce Extramarginal Wage Payments?," NBER Working Papers 4346, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-84, December.
  5. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  6. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 1997. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
  7. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  8. Seltzer, Andrew & Merrett, David T, 2000. "Personnel Policies at the Union Bank of Australia: Evidence from the 1888-1900 Entry Cohorts," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(4), pages 573-613, October.
  9. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  10. Ernst Fehr & Armin Falk, 2003. "Wage Rigidity in a Competitive Incomplete Contract Market," Labor and Demography 0305001, EconWPA.
  11. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  12. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Brown, Martin & Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst, 2011. "Competition and Relational Contracts: The Role of Unemployment as a Disciplinary Device," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 359, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  2. Nieken, Petra & Schmitz, Patrick W, 2011. "Repeated moral hazard and contracts with memory: A laboratory experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 8241, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Casoria Fortuna & Riedl Arno, 2012. "Experimental labor markets and policy considerations: Incomplete contracts and macroeconomic aspects," Research Memorandum 058, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  4. Eva I. Hoppe & Patrick W. Schmitz, 2013. "Contracting under Incomplete Information and Social Preferences: An Experimental Study," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(4), pages 1516-1544.
  5. Macpherson, David A. & Prasad, Kislaya & Salmon, Timothy C., 2014. "Deferred compensation vs. efficiency wages: An experimental test of effort provision and self-selection," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 90-107.

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