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Bobbing for Widgets: Compensating Wage Differentials


  • Catherine Eckel
  • Melayne Morgan McInnes
  • Sara Solnick
  • Jean Ensminger
  • Roland Fryer
  • Ronald Heiner
  • Gavin Samms
  • Katri Sieberg
  • Rick Wilson


The authors describe a classroom game that introduces the concept of compensating wage differentials by allowing students to negotiate over the assignment of jobs and wages. Two jobs are designed so that neither job requires special skills, but one is significantly more unpleasant than the other. By varying the job titles and duties, students can see how wages respond to changes in job characteristics. The impact of various policy measures, such as comparable worth legislation and safety regulation, is also explored. This game can be conducted in a 50-minute class and requires only a deck of cards, poker chips, and a container of ice water.

Suggested Citation

  • Catherine Eckel & Melayne Morgan McInnes & Sara Solnick & Jean Ensminger & Roland Fryer & Ronald Heiner & Gavin Samms & Katri Sieberg & Rick Wilson, 2005. "Bobbing for Widgets: Compensating Wage Differentials," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(2), pages 129-138, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jeduce:v:36:y:2005:i:2:p:129-138 DOI: 10.3200/JECE.36.2.129-138

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bruno S. Frey, 2000. "Was Bewirkt die Volkswirtschaftslehre?," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 1(1), pages 5-33, February.
    2. Victor R. Fuchs & Alan B. Krueger & James M. Poterba, 1997. "Why do Economists Disagree About Policy?," NBER Working Papers 6151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Rivlin, Alice M, 1987. "Economics and the Political Process," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 1-10, March.
    4. Robert J. Blendon, 1997. "Bridging the Gap between the Public's and Economists' Views of the Economy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 105-118, Summer.
    5. Michael Weinstein, 1992. "Economists and the Media," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 73-77, Summer.
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