IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/bla/obuest/v82y2020i3p647-668.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Wage Differentials and Workers’ Effort: Experimental Evidence from Uganda

Author

Listed:
  • John Sseruyange
  • Erwin Bulte

Abstract

We organize a real‐effort field experiment with varying piece rates to assess the impact of wages and social comparisons on productivity. In addition to analyzing how piece rates and social comparisons affect productivity during the ‘paid stage’ of the experiment, we also consider how they affect effort supply during a voluntary and unpaid follow‐up task. Our main results are that effort supply is relatively unresponsive to variation in own earnings, but responds strongly to pay inequality. While we obtain weak support for the hypothesis that positive social comparisons invite extra effort during paid stages of the experiment, our most important finding is that social comparisons matter for voluntary tasks when shirking is cheap. Specifically, positive social comparisons positively affect productivity during unpaid tasks, and negative comparisons have the opposite impact.

Suggested Citation

  • John Sseruyange & Erwin Bulte, 2020. "Wage Differentials and Workers’ Effort: Experimental Evidence from Uganda," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 82(3), pages 647-668, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:obuest:v:82:y:2020:i:3:p:647-668
    DOI: 10.1111/obes.12344
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/obes.12344
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1111/obes.12344?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Emily Breza & Supreet Kaur & Yogita Shamdasani, 2018. "The Morale Effects of Pay Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(2), pages 611-663.
    2. George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-283.
    3. Ernst Fehr & Georg Kirchsteiger & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-459.
    4. AndrewE. Clark & Claudia Senik, 2010. "Who Compares to Whom? The Anatomy of Income Comparisons in Europe," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(544), pages 573-594, May.
    5. Johannes Abeler & Armin Falk & Lorenz Goette & David Huffman, 2011. "Reference Points and Effort Provision," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 470-492, April.
    6. Heike Hennig-Schmidt & Bettina Rockenbach & Abdolkarim Sadrieh, 2010. "In Search Of Workers' Real Effort Reciprocity-A Field and a Laboratory Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(4), pages 817-837, June.
    7. David Card & Alexandre Mas & Enrico Moretti & Emmanuel Saez, 2012. "Inequality at Work: The Effect of Peer Salaries on Job Satisfaction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2981-3003, October.
    8. Andrew E. Clark & David Masclet & Marie Claire Villeval, 2010. "Effort and Comparison Income: Experimental and Survey Evidence," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 63(3), pages 407-426, April.
    9. Samuel Bowles & Yongjin Park, 2005. "Emulation, Inequality, and Work Hours: Was Thorsten Veblen Right?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(507), pages 397-412, November.
    10. Gächter, Simon & Thöni, Christian, 2010. "Social comparison and performance: Experimental evidence on the fair wage-effort hypothesis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 531-543, December.
    11. Johannes Abeler & Steffen Altmann & Sebastian Kube & Matthias Wibral, 2010. "Gift Exchange and Workers' Fairness Concerns: When Equality is Unfair," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(6), pages 1299-1324, December.
    12. Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Goette, 2007. "Do Workers Work More if Wages Are High? Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 298-317, March.
    13. Alain Cohn & Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Goette, 2015. "Fair Wages and Effort Provision: Combining Evidence from a Choice Experiment and a Field Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(8), pages 1777-1794, August.
    14. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    15. Bellemare, Charles & Shearer, Bruce, 2009. "Gift giving and worker productivity: Evidence from a firm-level experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 233-244, September.
    16. Bartling, Björn & von Siemens, Ferdinand A., 2011. "Wage inequality and team production: An experimental analysis," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 1-16, February.
    17. Sebastian Kube & Michel Andre Marechal & Clemens Puppe, 2012. "The Currency of Reciprocity: Gift Exchange in the Workplace," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1644-1662, June.
    18. Sebastian J. Goerg & Sebastian Kube & Jonas Radbruch, 2019. "The Effectiveness of Incentive Schemes in the Presence of Implicit Effort Costs," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 65(9), pages 4063-4078, September.
    19. Erwin Bulte & John List & Daan van Soest, 2019. "Toward an Understanding of the Welfare Effects of Nudges: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Uganda," Natural Field Experiments 00674, The Field Experiments Website.
    20. Anat Bracha & Uri Gneezy & George Loewenstein, 2015. "Relative Pay and Labor Supply," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 297-315.
    21. Felipe A. Araujo & Erin Carbone & Lynn Conell-Price & Marli W. Dunietz & Ania Jaroszewicz & Rachel Landsman & Diego Lamé & Lise Vesterlund & Stephanie W. Wang & Alistair J. Wilson, 2016. "The slider task: an example of restricted inference on incentive effects," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(1), pages 1-12, May.
    22. Jack A. Nickerson & Todd R. Zenger, 2008. "Envy, comparison costs, and the economic theory of the firm," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(13), pages 1429-1449, December.
    23. Alain Cohn & Ernst Fehr & Benedikt Herrmann & Frédéric Schneider, 2014. "Social Comparison And Effort Provision: Evidence From A Field Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 877-898, August.
    24. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    25. Uri Gneezy & John A List, 2006. "Putting Behavioral Economics to Work: Testing for Gift Exchange in Labor Markets Using Field Experiments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1365-1384, September.
    26. Stefano DellaVigna & Attila Lindner & Balázs Reizer & Johannes F. Schmieder, 2017. "Reference-Dependent Job Search: Evidence from Hungary," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(4), pages 1969-2018.
    27. Roger Karnes, 2009. "A Change in Business Ethics: The Impact on Employer–Employee Relations," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 87(2), pages 189-197, June.
    28. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2016. "Mindful Economics: The Production, Consumption, and Value of Beliefs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 141-164, Summer.
    29. Gary Charness & Peter Kuhn, 2007. "Does Pay Inequality Affect Worker Effort? Experimental Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 693-723.
    30. Armin Falk & Markus Knell, 2004. "Choosing the Joneses: Endogenous Goals and Reference Standards," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(3), pages 417-435, October.
    31. H. Leibenstein, 1950. "Bandwagon, Snob, and Veblen Effects in the Theory of Consumers' Demand," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(2), pages 183-207.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Jose Rojas-Fallas & J. Forrest Williams, 2020. "Wage Differences Matter: An Experiment of Social Comparison and Effort Provision when Wages Increase or Decrease," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(4), pages 1-12, December.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Dohmen, Thomas, 2014. "Behavioral labor economics: Advances and future directions," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 71-85.
    2. Fortuna Casoria & Arno Riedl, 2013. "Experimental Labor Markets And Policy Considerations: Incomplete Contracts And Macroeconomic Aspects," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(3), pages 398-420, July.
    3. Gary Charness & Ramón Cobo-Reyes & Juan A. Lacomba & Francisco Lagos & Jose Maria Perez, 2016. "Social comparisons in wage delegation: experimental evidence," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(2), pages 433-459, June.
    4. Gächter, Simon & Thöni, Christian, 2010. "Social comparison and performance: Experimental evidence on the fair wage-effort hypothesis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 531-543, December.
    5. Gary Bolton & Peter Werner, 2016. "The influence of potential on wages and effort," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(3), pages 535-561, September.
    6. Gross, Till & Guo, Christopher & Charness, Gary, 2015. "Merit pay and wage compression with productivity differences and uncertainty," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 233-247.
    7. Sliwka, Dirk & Werner, Peter, 2016. "How Do Agents React to Dynamic Wage Increases? An Experimental Study," IZA Discussion Papers 9855, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Guenther, Isabel & Tetteh-Baah, Samuel Kofi, 2019. "The impact of discrimination on redistributive preferences and productivity: experimental evidence from the United States," VfS Annual Conference 2019 (Leipzig): 30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall - Democracy and Market Economy 203652, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    9. Marco Kleine & Sebastian Kube, 2015. "Communication and Trust in Principal-Team Relationships: Experimental Evidence," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2015_06, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    10. Emily Breza & Supreet Kaur & Yogita Shamdasani, 2018. "The Morale Effects of Pay Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(2), pages 611-663.
    11. Christian Koch, 2021. "Can reference points explain wage rigidity? Experimental evidence," Journal for Labour Market Research, Springer;Institute for Employment Research/ Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), vol. 55(1), pages 1-17, December.
    12. Bejarano, Hernán & Corgnet, Brice & Gómez-Miñambres, Joaquín, 2021. "Economic stability promotes gift-exchange in the workplace," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 187(C), pages 374-398.
    13. Gagnon, Nickolas & Bosmans, Kristof & Riedl, Arno, 2020. "The Effect of Unfair Chances and Gender Discrimination on Labor Supply," IZA Discussion Papers 12912, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Axel Ockenfels & Dirk Sliwka & Peter Werner, 2015. "Bonus Payments and Reference Point Violations," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(7), pages 1496-1513, July.
    15. Fortuna Casoria & Arno Riedl, 2013. "Experimental Labor Markets And Policy Considerations: Incomplete Contracts And Macroeconomic Aspects," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(3), pages 398-420, July.
    16. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter, 2011. "Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 3, pages 229-330, Elsevier.
    17. Gose, Karina & Sadrieh, Abdolkarim, 2014. "Strike, coordination, and dismissal in uniform wage settings," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 145-158.
    18. Becker, Johannes & Hopp, Daniel & Süß, Karolin, 2020. "How altruistic is indirect reciprocity? - Evidence from gift-exchange games in the lab," VfS Annual Conference 2020 (Virtual Conference): Gender Economics 224592, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    19. Tetteh-Baah, Samuel Kofi & Günther, Isabel, 2020. "The impact of gender and ethnic discrimination on redistribution and productivity," VfS Annual Conference 2020 (Virtual Conference): Gender Economics 224633, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    20. Koch, Alexander K. & Nafziger, Julia, 2016. "Gift exchange, control, and cyberloafing: A real-effort experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 131(PA), pages 409-426.

    More about this item

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:obuest:v:82:y:2020:i:3:p:647-668. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/sfeixuk.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Wiley Content Delivery (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/sfeixuk.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.