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Employee Crime, Monitoring, and the Efficiency Wage Hypothesis

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  • William T. Dickens
  • Lawrence F. Katz
  • Kevin Lang
  • Lawrence H. Summers

Abstract

This paper offers some observations on employee crime, economic theories of crime, limits on bonding, and the efficiency wage hypothesis. We demonstrate that the simplest economic theories of crime predict that profit-maximizing firms should follow strategies of minimal monitoring and large penalties for employee crime. Finding overwhelming empirical evidence that firms expend considerable resources trying to detect employee malfeasance and do not impose extremely large penalties, we investigate a number of possible reasons why the simple model's predictions fail. It turns out that plausible explanations for firms large outlays on monitoring of employees also justify the payment of premium wages in some circumstances. There is no legitimate a priori argument that firms should not pay efficiency wages once it is recognized that they expend significant resources on monitoring.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2356.

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Date of creation: Nov 1989
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2356

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  1. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  2. Polinsky, Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1979. "The Optimal Tradeoff between the Probability and Magnitude of Fines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(5), pages 880-91, December.
  3. Alan B. Krueger & Lawrence H. Summers, 1987. "Reflections on the Inter-Industry Wage Structure," NBER Working Papers 1968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. William T. Dickens & Lawrence F. Katz, 1987. "Inter-Industry Wage Differences and Theories of Wage Determination," NBER Working Papers 2271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jeremy I. Bulow & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "A Theory of Dual Labor Markets with Application to Industrial Policy, Discrimination and Keynesian Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 1666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Leigh, J. Paul, 1985. "The effects of unemployment and the business cycle on absenteeism," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 159-170, May.
  7. Gary S. Becker & George J. Stigler, 1974. "Law Enforcement, Malfeasance, and Compensation of Enforcers," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-18, January.
  8. 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.
  9. Calvo, Guillermo, 1979. "Quasi-Walrasian Theories of Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(2), pages 102-07, May.
  10. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Eaton, Curtis & White, William D, 1983. "The Economy of High Wages: An Agency Problem," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 50(198), pages 175-81, May.
  12. Brown, Charles & Medoff, James, 1989. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1027-59, October.
  13. Malcomson, James M, 1984. "Work Incentives, Hierarchy, and Internal Labor Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 486-507, June.
  14. George J. Stigler, 1974. "The Optimum Enforcement of Laws," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 55-67 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Lazear, Edward P, 1981. "Agency, Earnings Profiles, Productivity, and Hours Restrictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 606-20, September.
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Cited by:
  1. George A. Akerlof & Lawrence F. Katz, 1989. "Workers' Trust Funds and the Logic of Wage Profiles," NBER Working Papers 2548, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. William T. Dickens & Kevin Lang, 1992. "Labor Market Segmentation Theory: Reconsidering the Evidence," NBER Working Papers 4087, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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