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Performance Pay and Within-Firm Wage Inequality

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  • Erling Barth
  • Bernt Bratsberg
  • Torbjørn Hægeland
  • Oddbjørn Raaum

    ()
    (Statistics Norway)

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of performance-related pay on wage differentials within firms. Our theoretical framework predicts that, compared to a fixed pay system, pay schemes based on individual effort increase within-firm wage inequality, while group-based bonuses have minor effects on wage dispersion. Theory also predicts an interaction between performance-related pay and union bargaining, where union power reduces the impact of performance pay on wage dispersion. The empirical contribution utilizes two recent Norwegian employer surveys, linked to a full set of employee records. A longitudinal sub-sample allows for identification based on fixed establishment effects. Introduction of performance-related pay is shown to raise residual wage inequality in nonunion firms, but not in firms with high union density. Our findings suggest that even though performance-related pay appears to be on the rise, the overall impact on wage dispersion is likely to be small, particularly in European countries with strong unions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Research Department of Statistics Norway in its series Discussion Papers with number 535.

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Date of creation: Apr 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:535

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Keywords: Performance related pay; wage inequality; union bargaining;

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References

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  1. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-28, March.
  2. Barth, E. & Raaum, O. & Naylor, R., 1998. "Union Wage Effects: Does Membership Matter?," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 500, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  3. Booth, Alison L & Frank, Jeff, 1999. "Earnings, Productivity, and Performance-Related Pay," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(3), pages 447-63, July.
  4. Lemieux, Thomas & MacLeod, W. Bentley & Parent, Daniel, 2007. "Performance Pay and Wage Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 2850, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Nicolai J. Foss & Keld Laursen, 2002. "Performance Pay, Delegation, and Multitasking under Uncertainty and Innovativeness An Empirical Investigation," DRUID Working Papers 02-14, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  6. Charles Brown, 1990. "Firms' Choice of Method of Pay," NBER Working Papers 3065, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. George Baker, 2000. "The Use of Performance Measures in Incentive Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 415-420, May.
  8. Barth, Erling & Lucifora, Claudio, 2006. "Wage Dispersion, Markets and Institutions: The Effects of the Boom in Education on the Wage Structure," IZA Discussion Papers 2181, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Pierre Cahuc & André Zylberberg, 2004. "Labor Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026203316x, December.
  10. Erling Barth & Bernt Bratsberg & Torbjørn Hægeland & Oddbjørn Raaum, 2008. "Who pays for performance?," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 29(1), pages 8-29, May.
  11. repec:ese:iserwp:2000-35 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. David Blanchflower & Alex Bryson, 2002. "Changes over time in union relative wage effects in the UK and the US revisited," NBER Working Papers 9395, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Vroman, S. B., 1990. "The union-nonunion wage differential and monitoring costs," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 405-409, April.
  14. David Card & Thomas Lemieux & W. Craig Riddell, 2004. "Unions and Wage Inequality," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 25(4), pages 519-562, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Barth, Erling & Bratsberg, Bernt & Haegeland, Torbjørn & Raaum, Oddbjørn, 2006. "Who Pays for Performance?," IZA Discussion Papers 2142, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Daniel Parent & John S. Heywood, 2009. "Performance Pay And The White-Black Wage Gap," Departmental Working Papers 2009-07, McGill University, Department of Economics.
  3. K. Sommerfeld, 2013. "Higher and higher? Performance pay and wage inequality in Germany," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(30), pages 4236-4247, October.
  4. Alex Bryson & Richard Freeman & Claudio Lucifora & Michele Pellizzari & Virginie Perotin, 2012. "Paying for Performance: Incentive Pay Schemes and Employees' Financial Participation," CEP Discussion Papers dp1112, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.

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