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Extra Status and Extra Stress: Are Promotions Good for Us?

  • David W. Johnston
  • Wang-Sheng Lee

Promotions ordinarily involve higher wages and greater privileges; but they also often involve increased responsibility, accountability and work hours. Therefore, whether promotions are good for workers' wellbeing is an empirical question. Using high-quality panel data we estimate pre- and post-promotion effects on job attributes, physical health, mental health and life satisfaction, in an attempt at answering this question. We find that promotions substantially improve job security, pay perceptions and overall job satisfaction in the short term, and that promotions have short and longer term effects on job control, job stress, income and hours worked. However, despite these large effects on job attributes, we find that promotions have negligible effects on workers' health and happiness. Only mental health seems affected, with estimates suggesting significant deterioration two years after receiving a promotion. Thus, it seems the additional stress involved with promotions eventually outweighs the additional status, at least for the average worker.

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Article provided by ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School in its journal ILR Review.

Volume (Year): 66 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 32-54

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Handle: RePEc:ilr:articl:v:66:y:2013:i:1:p:32-54
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  1. Christopher J. Boyce & Andrew J. Oswald, 2012. "Do people become healthier after being promoted?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(5), pages 580-596, 05.
  2. Francesconi, Marco, 2001. " Determinants and Consequences of Promotions in Britain," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 63(3), pages 279-310, July.
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  9. Di Tella, Rafael & Haisken-De New, John & MacCulloch, Robert, 2010. "Happiness adaptation to income and to status in an individual panel," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 834-852, December.
  10. Johnston, David W. & Lee, Wang-Sheng, 2011. "Climbing the Job Ladder: New Evidence of Gender Inequity," IZA Discussion Papers 5970, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2011. "Anticipation, Free-Rider Problems, and Adaptation to Trade Unions: Re-Examining the Curious Case of Dissatisfied Union Members," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 64(5), pages 1000-1019, October.
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  13. Fischer, Justina AV & Sousa-Poza, Alfonso, 2007. "Does Job Satisfaction Improve The Health Of Workers? New Evidence Using Panel Data And Objective Measures Of Health," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 687, Stockholm School of Economics.
  14. Brown, Gordon D. A. & Gardner, Jonathan & Oswald, Andrew J. & Qian, Jing, 2005. "Does Wage Rank Affect Employees' Wellbeing?," IZA Discussion Papers 1505, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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