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Wage comparisons in and out of the firm. Evidence from a matched employer–employee French database

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  • Godechot, Olivier
  • Senik, Claudia

Abstract

This paper looks at the association between wage satisfaction and other people's pay, based on a matched employer–employee dataset. Three notions of reference wage appear to be being of particular importance: (i) the median wage level in one's firm, (ii) the level of wage of similar workers in the region, and (iii) the top 1% wage in one's firm. The first one triggers a signal effect, whereby all employees – especially young ones – whatever their relative position in the firm, are happier the higher the median wage in their firm, holding their own wage constant. The second and the third ones are sources of relative deprivation, i.e. workers’ satisfaction decreases with the gap between their own salary and these reference categories. These findings are based on objective measures of earnings as well as subjective declarations about wage satisfaction, awareness of other people's pay and reported income comparisons.

Suggested Citation

  • Godechot, Olivier & Senik, Claudia, 2015. "Wage comparisons in and out of the firm. Evidence from a matched employer–employee French database," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 395-410.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:117:y:2015:i:c:p:395-410
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2015.07.003
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Income comparisons; Distribution; Job satisfaction; Wage satisfaction; Signal effect; Matched employer–employee survey data;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General
    • 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

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