Equilibrium Incentive Contracts
AbstractWe study a labour market in which firms can observe workers’ output but not their effort, and in which a worker’s productivity in a given firm depends on a worker-firm specific component, unobservable for the firm. Firms offer wage contracts that optimally trade off effort and wage costs. As a result, employed workers enjoy rents, which in turn create unemployment. We show that the incentive power of the equilibrium wage contract is constrained socially efficient in the absence of unemployment benefits. We then apply the model to explain the recent increase in performance-pay contracts. Within our model, this can be explained by three different factors: (i) increased importance of non-observable effort, (ii) a fall in the marginal tax rate, (iii) a reduction in the heterogeneity of workers performing the same task. The likely effect of all three factors is an increase in the equilibrium unemployment rate.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Swedish Institute for Social Research in its series Working Paper Series with number 3/2003.
Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: 01 Mar 2003
Date of revision:
Incentives; Contracts; Unemployment; efficiency;
Other versions of this item:
- E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomics: Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution
- J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
- J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Macleod, W.B. & Malcomson, J.M., 1989.
"Wage Premiums And Profit Maximization In Efficiency Wage Models,"
UFAE and IAE Working Papers
114.89, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
- MacLeod, W. Bentley & Malcomson, James M., 1993. "Wage premiums and profit maximization in efficiency wage models," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 1223-1249, August.
- Macleod, W.B. & Malcomson, J., 1989. "Wage Premiums And Profit Maximisation In Efficiency Wage Models," Papers 337, London School of Economics - Centre for Labour Economics.
- Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
- Daron Acemoglu, 1998.
"Changes in Unemployment and Wage Inequality: An Alternative Theory and Some Evidence,"
NBER Working Papers
6658, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Daron Acemoglu, 1999. "Changes in Unemployment and Wage Inequality: An Alternative Theory and Some Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1259-1278, December.
- Acemoglu, D., 1996. "Changes in Unemployment and Wage Inequality: An Alternative Theory and Some Evidence," Working papers 96-15, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Acemoglu, Daron, 1996. "Changes in Unemployment and Wage Inequality: An Alternative Theory and Some Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 1459, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Weitzman, Martin L, 1985.
"The Simple Macroeconomics of Profit Sharing,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 937-53, December.
- Edward P. Lazear, 1996.
"Performance Pay and Productivity,"
NBER Working Papers
5672, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Foster, James E & Wan, Henry Y, Jr, 1984. "Involuntary Unemployment as a Principal-Agent Equilibrium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 476-84, June.
- Montgomery, James D, 1991. "Equilibrium Wage Dispersion and Interindustry Wage Differentials," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(1), pages 163-79, February.
- Ritter, Joseph A & Taylor, Lowell J, 1994. "Workers as Creditors: Performance Bonds and Efficiency Wages," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 694-704, June.
- Daron Acemoglu & Robert Shimer, 1998.
"Holdups and Efficiency with Search Frictions,"
98-14, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Frank, Robert H, 1984. "Are Workers Paid Their Marginal Products?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 549-71, September.
- Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
- Oliver Hart & Bengt Holmstrom, 1986. "The Theory of Contracts," Working papers 418, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Moen, Espen R & Rosen, Asa, 2006. "Incentives in Competitive Search Equilibrium and Wage Rigidity," CEPR Discussion Papers 5554, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Ulf Axelson & Philip Bond, 2011. "Investment banking careers: An equilibrium theory of overpaid jobs," FMG Discussion Papers dp690, Financial Markets Group.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lena Lindahl).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.