IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The economics of vocation or 'why is a badly paid nurse a good nurse'?


  • Heyes, Anthony


Given the longstanding shortage of nurses in many jurisdictions, why couldn’t nursing wages be raised to attract more people into the profession? We tell a story in which the status of nursing as a ‘vocation’ implies that increasing wages reduces the average quality of applicants attracted. The underlying mechanism accords with the notion that increasing wages might attract the ‘wrong sort’ of people into the profession and highlights an (in)e?ciency wage mechanism, particular to vocations, which makes wages sticky upwards. The analysis has implications for job design in vocation-based sectors such as nursing and teaching.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Heyes, Anthony, 2005. "The economics of vocation or 'why is a badly paid nurse a good nurse'?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 561-569, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:24:y:2005:i:3:p:561-569

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Francois, Patrick, 2000. "'Public service motivation' as an argument for government provision," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 275-299, November.
    2. Yellen, Janet L, 1984. "Efficiency Wage Models of Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 200-205, May.
    3. Summers, Lawrence H, 1988. "Relative Wages, Efficiency Wages, and Keynesian Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 383-388, May.
    4. Turnipseed, David L., 2002. "Are good soldiers good?: Exploring the link between organization citizenship behavior and personal ethics," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 1-15, January.
    5. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
    6. Kreps, David M, 1997. "Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Incentives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 359-364, May.
    7. Julie Nelson, 1999. "Of Markets And Martyrs: Is It OK To Pay Well For Care?," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(3), pages 43-59.
    8. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
    9. Frey, Bruno S., 1993. "Shirking or work morale? : The impact of regulating," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 1523-1532, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    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:eee:jhecon:v:24:y:2005:i:3:p:561-569. 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: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    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 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.

    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.