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On the economic architecture of the workplace: Repercussions of social comparisons among heterogeneous workers

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  • Stark, Oded
  • Hyll, Walter

Abstract

We analyze the impact on a firm’s profits and optimal wage rates, and on the distribution of workers’ earnings, when workers compare their earnings with those of co-workers. We consider a low-productivity worker who receives lower wage earnings than a high-productivity worker. When the low-productivity worker derives (dis)utility not only from his own effort but also from comparing his earnings with those of the high-productivity worker, his response to the sensing of relative deprivation is to increase the optimal level of effort. Consequently, the firm’s profits are higher, its wage rates remain unchanged, and the distribution of earnings is compressed.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 28910.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:28910

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Keywords: Social comparisons; Heterogeneous workforce; Relative deprivation; Effort exertion; Earnings gap; Earnings compression;

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References

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  1. Hanming Fang & Giuseppe Moscarini, 2004. "Morale Hazard," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm386, Yale School of Management.
  2. KNIGHT, John & SONG, Lina & GUNATILAKA, Ramani, 2009. "Subjective well-being and its determinants in rural China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 635-649, December.
  3. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2010. "Social Incentives in the Workplace," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(2), pages 417-458.
  4. Antonio Cabrales & Antoni Calvo-Armengol & Nicola Pavoni, 2005. "Social Preferences, Skill Segregation, and Wage Dynamics," 2005 Meeting Papers 205, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Fan, C. Simon & Stark, Oded, 2007. "A social proximity explanation of the reluctance to assimilate," MPRA Paper 30940, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Armin Falk & Andrea Ichino, 2006. "Clean Evidence on Peer Effects," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 39-58, January.
  7. Stark, Oded & Micevska, Maja & Mycielski, Jerzy, 2009. "Relative poverty as a determinant of migration: Evidence from Poland," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 103(3), pages 119-122, June.
  8. Stark, Oded & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1988. "Labour Migration as a Response to Relative Deprivation," MPRA Paper 21670, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Robert H. Frank, 1984. "Interdependent Preferences and the Competitive Wage Structure," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(4), pages 510-520, Winter.
  11. Barton H. Hamilton & Jack A. Nickerson & Hideo Owan, 2003. "Team Incentives and Worker Heterogeneity: An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Teams on Productivity and Participation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(3), pages 465-497, June.
  12. Alexandre Mas & Enrico Moretti, 2006. "Peers at Work," NBER Working Papers 12508, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1979. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 321-24, May.
  14. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-64, October.
  15. Amihai Glazer, 2008. "Optimal Contracts When a Worker Envies His Boss," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 120-137, May.
  16. BOSSERT, Walter & D'AMBROSIO, Conchita, 2004. "Reference Groups and Individual Deprivation," Cahiers de recherche 2004-10, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  17. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  18. Paul Osterman, 2006. "Wage effects of high performance work organization in manufacturing," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 59(2), pages 187-204, January.
  19. Schelling, Thomas C, 1969. "Models of Segregation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 488-93, May.
  20. Levine, David, 1989. "Cohesiveness, Productivity, and Wage Dispersion," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt8kd4d0p4, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  21. Bull, Clive & Schotter, Andrew & Weigelt, Keith, 1987. "Tournaments and Piece Rates: An Experimental Study," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(1), pages 1-33, February.
  22. Frank, Robert H, 1984. "Are Workers Paid Their Marginal Products?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 549-71, September.
  23. Rosen, Sherwin, 1986. "Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 701-15, September.
  24. Stark, Oded, 1984. "Rural-to-Urban Migration in LDCs: A Relative Deprivation Approach," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(3), pages 475-86, April.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Stark, Oded, 2012. "Policy responses to a dark side of the integration of regions and nations," Discussion Papers 122036, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
  2. Stark, Oded, 2012. "Integration, social distress, and policy formation," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 25, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
  3. Stark, Oded & Kobus, Martyna & Jakubek, Marcin, 2012. "A concern about low relative income, and the alignment of utilitarianism with egalitarianism," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 114(3), pages 235-238.
  4. Stark, Oded, 2013. "Stressful Integration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 1-9.
  5. Sorger, Gerhard & Stark, Oded, 2013. "Income redistribution going awry: The reversal power of the concern for relative deprivation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 1-9.
  6. Stark, Oded & Jakubek, Marcin & Falniowski, Fryderyk, 2014. "Reconciling the Rawlsian and the utilitarian approaches to the maximization of social welfare," Discussion Papers 162881, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
  7. Oded Stark & Franz Rendl & Marcin Jakubek, 2012. "The merger of populations, the incidence of marriages, and aggregate unhappiness," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 331-344, April.
  8. Dohmen, Thomas, 2014. "Behavioural Labour Economics: Advances and Future Directions," IZA Discussion Papers 8263, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Stark, Oded, 2012. "Policy responses to a dark side of the integration of regions," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 28, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.

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