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Sick Pay Provision in Experimental Labor Markets

  • Peter Dürsch


    (University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics)

  • Jörg Oechssler


    (University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics)

  • Radovan Vadovic


    (ITAM, Department of Economics)

Sick pay is a common provision in most labor contracts. This paper employs an experimental gift-exchange environment to explore two related questions using both managers and undergraduates as subjects. First, do workers reciprocate sick pay in the same way as they reciprocate wage payments? Second, do firms benefit from offering sick pay? Firms may benefit in two different ways: directly, from workers reciprocating higher sick pay with higher efforts; and indirectly, from self-selection of reciprocal workers into contracts with higher sick pay. Our main finding is that the direct effect is rather weak in terms of effort and negative in terms of profits. However, when there is competition among firms for workers, sick pay can become an important advantage. Consequently, competition leads to a higher provision of sick pay relative to a monopsonistic labor market.

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Paper provided by University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0476.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2008
Date of revision: Oct 2008
Handle: RePEc:awi:wpaper:0476
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  1. Gary Charness & Martin Dufwenberg, 2006. "Promises and Partnership," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(6), pages 1579-1601, November.
  2. Hennig-Schmidt, Heike & Rockenbach, Bettina & Sadrieh, Abdolkarim, 2005. "In Search of Workers' Real Effort Reciprocity - A Field and a Laboratory Experiment," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 55, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  3. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 1997. "Reciprocity as a contract enforcement device: experimental evidence," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5911, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  4. Stefan Bauernschuster & Jörg Oechssler & Peter Duersch & Radovan Vadovic, 2009. "Mandatory Sick Pay Provision: A Labor Market Experiment," Jena Economic Research Papers 2009-076, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  5. E. Fehr & John A. List, . "The Hidden Costs and Returns of Incentives - Trust and Trustworthiness among CEOs," IEW - Working Papers 134, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  6. Henrekson, Magnus & Persson, Mats, 2001. "The Effects on Sick Leave of Changes in the Sickness Insurance System," Seminar Papers 697, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  7. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst, 2003. "Why labour market experiments?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 399-406, August.
  8. Puhani, Patrick A. & Sonderhof, Katja, 2010. "The effects of a sick pay reform on absence and on health-related outcomes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 285-302, March.
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  11. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, Georg & Riedl, Arno, 1995. "Gift Exchange and Reciprocity in Competitive Experimental Markets," Economics Series 14, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  12. David J. Cooper, 1999. "Gaming against Managers in Incentive Systems: Experimental Results with Chinese Students and Chinese Managers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 781-804, September.
  13. Dohmen, Thomas & Falk, Armin, 2011. "Performance Pay and Multidimensional Sorting - Productivity, Preferences and Gender," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 360, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  14. Gary Charness, 2004. "Attribution and Reciprocity in an Experimental Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 665-688, July.
  15. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  16. Drehmann, Mathias & Oechssler, Joerg & Roider, Andreas, 2003. "Herding and Contrarian Behavior in Financial Markets: An Internet Experiment," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt6zf5469f, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  17. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
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  21. Fehr, Ernst, et al, 1998. "When Social Norms Overpower Competition: Gift Exchange in Experimental Labor Markets," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 324-51, April.
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  24. Sandra Maximiano & Randolph Sloof & Joep Sonnemans, 2004. "Gift Exchange in a Multi-worker Firm," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-100/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  25. John Treble, 2009. "A Tale Of Two Continents: Insuring Workers Against Loss Of Income Due To Sickness In North America And Europe," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 209(1), pages 116-125, July.
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  28. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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