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Reported Job Satisfaction: What Does It Mean?

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  • Louis Lévy-Garboua

    ()

  • Claude Montmarquette

    ()

Abstract

By reporting his satisfaction with his job or any other experience, an individual does not communicate the number of utils that he feels. Instead, he expresses his posterior preference over available alternatives conditional on acquired knowledge of the past. This new interpretation of reported job satisfaction restores the power of microeconomic theory without denying the essential role of discrepancies between one's situation and available opportunities. Posterior human wealth discrepancies are found to be the best predictor of reported job satisfaction. Static models of relative utility and other subjective well-being assumptions are all unambiguously rejected by the data, as well as an economic model in which job satisfaction is a measure of posterior human wealth. The posterior choice model readily explains why so many people usually report themselves as happy or satisfied, why both younger and older age groups are insensitive to current earning discrepancies, and why the past weighs more heavily than the present and the future. En rapportant sa satisfaction vis-à-vis son travail ou toute autre expérience, un individu ne communique pas le nombre d'unités d'utilité qu'il ressent. Plutôt, conditionnellement à ses expériences antérieures, il exprime a posteriori sa préférence relativement à d'autres emplois ou situations alternatives. Cette nouvelle interprétation de la satisfaction révélée rend à la théorie microéconomique son pouvoir explicatif tout en reconnaissant le rôle essentiel joué par la différence entre la situation d'une personne et les opportunités. Les différences a posteriori dans la richesse humaine sont les meilleurs prédicteurs de la satisfaction révélée. Les modèles statistiques de l'utilité relative et ceux d'utilité subjective sont tous rejetés par les données, de même que le modèle économique où la satisfaction de l'emploi est une mesure de la richesse humaine a posteriori. Le modèle de choix a posteriori explique pourquoi dans les enquêtes une grande majorité de personnes expriment leur bonheur ou leur satisfaction, pourquoi les jeunes et les vieux ne réagissent pas aux différentielles de revenus courants et pourquoi le passé joue davantage que la situation présente ou future.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CIRANO in its series CIRANO Working Papers with number 97s-09.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 1997
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Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:97s-09

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Keywords: Job satisfaction; Relative utility models; Posterior choice model; Satisfaction à l'emploi; modèles d'utilité relative; modèle de choix a posteriori;

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