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Reciprocity and Wage Undercutting

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  • Dufwenberg, Martin

    ()
    (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University)

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    Abstract

    It is well-documented that employers refuse to hire workers who offer their services at less than the prevailing wage. The received explanation is that workers are motivated by reciprocity¾ they desire to reward kindness and punish hostility. To refuse an outsider’s under-bid is viewed as a kind choice that is met with good effort; a low wage is viewed as an insult that is met with shirking. We have developed a general theory of reciprocity which in this paper is applied to a wage-setting game played by an employer and two workers. We show that when workers are motivated by reciprocity, equilibrium behaviour accords well with the aforementioned stylized facts.

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    File URL: http://www2.ne.su.se/paper/wp99_13.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Stockholm University, Department of Economics in its series Research Papers in Economics with number 1999:13.

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    Length: 17 pages
    Date of creation: 04 Nov 1999
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:1999_0013

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    Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
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    Web page: http://www.ne.su.se/
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    Related research

    Keywords: Reciprocity; wage underbidding; unemployment;

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    References

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    1. Ernst Fehr & Georg Kirchsteiger & Arno Riedl, 2003. "Gift Exchange and Reciprocity in Competitive Experimental Markets," Labor and Demography 0305002, EconWPA.
    2. Geanakoplos, John & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1989. "Psychological games and sequential rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 60-79, March.
    3. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Gneezy, Uri & Güth, Werner & Verboven, Frank, 1998. "Presents or investments? An experimental analysis," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 1998,56, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
    5. Alan S. Blinder & Don H. Choi, 1989. "A Shred of Evidence on Theories of Wage Stickiness," NBER Working Papers 3105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1988. "Fairness and Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 44-49, May.
    7. Anderson, Simon P. & Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A., 1998. "A theoretical analysis of altruism and decision error in public goods games," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 297-323, November.
    8. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    9. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-83, May.
    10. Campbell, Carl M, III & Kamlani, Kunal S, 1997. "The Reasons for Wage Rigidity: Evidence from a Survey of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 759-89, August.
    11. Bewley, Truman F, 1995. "A Depressed Labor Market as Explained by Participants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 250-54, May.
    12. Ernst Fehr & Armin Falk, 1999. "Wage Rigidity in a Competitive Incomplete Contract Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 106-134, February.
    13. Bewley, Truman F., 1998. "Why not cut pay?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 459-490, May.
    14. 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.
    15. Gary Charness, 1996. "Attribution and reciprocity in a simulated labor market: An experimental investigation," Economics Working Papers 283, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 1997.
    16. repec:wop:humbsf:1998-56 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Blount, Sally, 1995. "When Social Outcomes Aren't Fair: The Effect of Causal Attributions on Preferences," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 131-144, August.
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