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Output and wages with inequality averse agents

  • Dominique Demougin
  • Claude Fluet
  • Carsten Helm

We analyse a two-task work environment with risk-neutral but inequality averse individuals. For the agent employed in task 2 effort is verifiable, while in task 1 it is not. Accordingly, agent 1 receives an incentive contract that, owing to his wealth constraint, leads to a rent that the other agent resents. We show that greater inequality aversion unambiguously decreases total output and therefore average labour productivity. More specifically, inequality aversion reduces effort, wage, and payoff of agent 1. Effects on wage and effort of agent 2 depend on whether effort levels across tasks are substitutes or complements in the firm's output function.

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Article provided by Canadian Economics Association in its journal Canadian Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 39 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 399-413

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Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:39:y:2006:i:2:p:399-413
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  1. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Englmaier, Florian & Achim Wambach, 2003. "Contracts and Inequity Aversion," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 74, Royal Economic Society.
  4. Demougin, Dominique M. & Bental, Benjamin, 2004. "Incentive Contracts and Total Factor Productivity," Papers 2004,41, Humboldt-Universität Berlin, Center for Applied Statistics and Economics (CASE).
  5. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2009-2042, August.
  6. Demougin, Dominique & Fluet, Claude, 2001. "Monitoring versus incentives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(9), pages 1741-1764, October.
  7. Schwarze, Johannes & Härpfer, Marco, 2003. "Are People Inequality Averse, and Do They Prefer Redistribution by the State? A Revised Version," IZA Discussion Papers 974, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2001. "Theories of Fairness and Reciprocity," Discussion Papers in Economics 14, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  9. Hideshi Itoh, 2004. "Moral Hazard and Other-Regarding Preferences," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 55(1), pages 18-45.
  10. James Konow, 2003. "Which Is the Fairest One of All? A Positive Analysis of Justice Theories," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1188-1239, December.
  11. Luis Garicano, 2000. "Hierarchies and the Organization of Knowledge in Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 874-904, October.
  12. Dominique Demougin & Claude Fluet, 2003. "Group vs. Individual Performance Pay When Workers Are Envious," Cahiers de recherche 0318, CIRPEE.
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