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Job Satisfaction and Co-worker Wages: Status or Signal?

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  • AndrewE. Clark
  • Nicolai Kristensen
  • Niels Westergård-Nielsen

Abstract

We use matched employer-employee panel data to show that individual job satisfaction is higher when other workers in the same establishment are better-paid. This runs counter to substantial existing evidence of income comparisons in subjective well-being. We argue that the difference hinges on the nature of the reference group. Here we use co-workers. Their earnings not only induce jealousy but also provide a signal about the worker's own future earnings. In our data, this positive future earnings signal outweighs any negative status effect. This phenomenon is stronger for men and in the private sector but weaker for those nearer retirement. Copyright © The Author(s). Journal compilation © Royal Economic Society 2009.

Suggested Citation

  • AndrewE. Clark & Nicolai Kristensen & Niels Westergård-Nielsen, 2009. "Job Satisfaction and Co-worker Wages: Status or Signal?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(536), pages 430-447, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:119:y:2009:i:536:p:430-447
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Levy-Garboua, Louis & Montmarquette, Claude & Simonnet, Veronique, 2007. "Job satisfaction and quits," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 251-268, April.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods

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