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High Compensation Creates a Ratchet Effect

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Author Info

  • Gersbach, Hans

    ()
    (ETH Zurich)

  • Glazer, Amihai

    ()
    (University of California, Irvine)

Abstract

We consider a firm which pays a worker for his effort over several periods. The more the firm pays in one period, the wealthier the worker is in the following periods, and so the more he must be paid for a given effort. This wealth effect can induce an employer to pay little initially and more later on. For related reasons, the worker may work harder than the employer prefers. The incentive contracts firms offer may therefore cap the worker’s earnings. Lastly, this wealth ratchet effect can induce excessive firing and turnover.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1143.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: May 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Journal, 2009, 119 (539), 1208 - 1224
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1143

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Related research

Keywords: wealth effects; Ratchet effects; moral hazard; compensation; principal-agent; high-powered incentives;

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  1. Kanemoto, Yoshitsugu & MacLeod, W Bentley, 1992. "The Ratchet Effect and the Market for Secondhand Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(1), pages 85-98, January.
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  3. Gibbons, R. & Murphy, K.J., 1990. "Optimal Incentive Contracts In The Presence Of Career Concerns: Theory And Evidence," Working papers 563, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Drew Fudenberg & Bengt Holmstrom & Paul Milgrom, 1987. "Short-Term Contracts and Long-Term Agency Relationships," Working papers 468, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  5. Hellerstein, Judith K & Neumark, David & Troske, Kenneth R, 1999. "Wages, Productivity, and Worker Characteristics: Evidence from Plant-Level Production Functions and Wage Equations," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(3), pages 409-46, July.
  6. Orazio P. Attanasio & Hilary W. Hoynes, 1995. "Differential Mortality and Wealth Accumulation," NBER Working Papers 5126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1994. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," CIRANO Working Papers 94s-23, CIRANO.
  8. James L. Medoff & Katharine G. Abraham, 1981. "Experience, Performance, and Earnings," NBER Working Papers 0278, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-84, December.
  10. Aron, Debra J, 1987. "Worker Reputation and Productivity Incentives," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(4), pages S87-106, October.
  11. Lazear, Edward P, 1986. "Salaries and Piece Rates," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(3), pages 405-31, July.
  12. Clark, Andrew E., 1999. "Are wages habit-forming? evidence from micro data," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 179-200, June.
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