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Reciprocal fairness and gift exchange practices in the labor

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  • Stephane Mahuteau

    (University of Western Sydney)

Abstract

We aim at investigating to what extent reciprocal considerations, exhibited by employers and employees, should lead to stable gift exchange practices in the labor contract, giving rise to non- compensating wage differentials among industries. We use the concept of Sequential Reciprocity Equilibrium developed by Dufwenberg & Kirchsteiger (1998) to incorporate players’ preferences for reciprocity in their utility function. We model the labor relation through a one shot sequential gift giving game between an employer who proposes a wage given the employee’s profitability level as exogenous and an employee who chooses his level of effort. We show that successful gift exchange practices may arise if both players are actually motivated by reciprocity. Even though intentions act as a catalyst of opportunistic behaviors, the respect of the equity norm makes mutual cooperation more likely. We propose a direct evaluation of the determinants of gift exchange practices between French employers and employees, estimating the probabilities to observe productivity increases following upon the settlement of rent-sharing agreements in the firm. Whether we estimate the probability for the employer to propose a rent-sharing agreement or the probability for the employees to raise their effort, we show that there exists an endogeneity bias related to the variable chosen as proxy to express the agents’ perception of their opponent’s fairness. This result gives support to the hypothesis that French employers and employees’ decisions are directly influenced by reciprocity concerns. Our results give support to the Akerlof & Yellen’s fair wage effort hypothesis as an explanation of the persistence of non-compensating wage differentials.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/lab/papers/0211/0211004.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Labor and Demography with number 0211004.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: 20 Nov 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:0211004

Note: Type of Document - pdf; prepared on IBM PC - PC; to print on HP/PostScript/Franciscan monk; pages: 31 ; figures: included
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Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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Keywords: employment relationship; gift exchange game; reciprocity; rent sharing;

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References

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  1. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
  2. William T. Dickens & Lawrence F. Katz, 1986. "Interindustry Wage Differences and Industry Characteristics," NBER Working Papers 2014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
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  7. Kirchsteiger, Georg, 1994. "The role of envy in ultimatum games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 373-389, December.
  8. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1999. "High Wage Workers and High Wage Firms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(2), pages 251-334, March.
  9. Hildreth, Andrew K G & Oswald, Andrew J, 1997. "Rent-Sharing and Wages: Evidence from Company and Establishment Panels," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 318-37, April.
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  16. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
  17. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
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  21. 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.
  22. Goux, Dominique & Maurin, Eric, 1999. "Persistence of Interindustry Wage Differentials: A Reexamination Using Matched Worker-Firm Panel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(3), pages 492-533, July.
  23. Croson, Rachel T. A., 1996. "Information in ultimatum games: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 197-212, August.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. What determines wages?
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2007-05-25 07:46:00
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Cited by:
  1. Card, David & de la Rica, Sara, 2004. "The Effect of Firm-Level Contracts on the Structure of Wages: Evidence from Matched Employer-Employee Data," IZA Discussion Papers 1421, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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