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On the economic architecture of the workplace: repercussions of social comparisons amongst heterogeneous workers

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  • Hyll, Walter
  • Stark, Oded

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 of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences in its series University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance with number 6.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:tuewef:6

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Web page: http://www.wiwi.uni-tuebingen.de/
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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. Stark, Oded & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1988. "Labour Migration as a Response to Relative Deprivation," MPRA Paper 21670, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Hanming Fang & Giuseppe Moscarini, 2004. "Morale Hazard," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm386, Yale School of Management.
  5. Schelling, Thomas C, 1969. "Models of Segregation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 488-93, May.
  6. Antonio Cabrales & Antoni Calvó-Armengol & Nicola Pavoni, 2004. "Social Preferences, Skill Segregation and Wage Dynamics," Working Papers 181, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Rosen, Sherwin, 1986. "Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 701-15, September.
  10. Alexandre Mas & Enrico Moretti, 2009. "Peers at Work," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 112-45, March.
  11. 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.
  12. Bossert, Walter & D'Ambrosio, Conchita, 2006. "Reference groups and individual deprivation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 90(3), pages 421-426, March.
  13. 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.
  14. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1979. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 321-24, May.
  15. Levine, David I., 1991. "Cohesiveness, productivity, and wage dispersion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 237-255, March.
  16. C. Simon Fan & Oded Stark, 2007. "A Social Proximity Explanation of the Reluctance to Assimilate," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 55-63, 02.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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).
  22. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  23. 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.
  24. Frank, Robert H, 1984. "Are Workers Paid Their Marginal Products?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 549-71, September.
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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," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 28, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
  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. Sorger, Gerhard & Stark, Oded, 2012. "Income redistribution going awry: The reversal power of the concern for relative deprivation," Discussion Papers 142407, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
  5. Stark, Oded & Jakubek, Marcin & Falniowski, Fryderyk, 2013. "Reconciling the Rawlsian and the utilitarian approaches to the maximization of social welfare," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 65, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
  6. Stark, Oded & Rendl, Franz & Jakubek, Marcin, 2011. "The merger of populations, the incidence of marriages, and aggregate unhappiness," Discussion Papers 109968, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
  7. Stark, Oded, 2013. "Stressful integration," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 56, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
  8. 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).

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