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How Responsive are Quits to Benefits?

Author

Listed:
  • Harley Frazis

    () (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

  • Mark A. Loewenstein

    () (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Abstract

It has been argued that one of the functions of fringe benefits is to reduce turnover. However, due to a lack of data, the effect on quits of the marginal dollar of benefits relative to the marginal dollar of wages is an under-researched topic. This paper uses the benefit incidence data in the 1979 Cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79) and the cost information in the National Compensation Survey to impute benefit costs. The value of imputed benefits is then entered as an explanatory variable in a mobility equation that is estimated using turnover information in the NLSY. We find that the quit rate is much more responsive to fringe benefits than to wages; this is even more the case with total turnover. We also find that benefit costs are correlated with training provision. Due to the high correlation of the costs of individual benefits, it is not possible to disentangle the effects of separate benefits. An interesting feature of the model that we develop for interpreting the strong negative relationship between fringe benefits and turnover is that abstracting from heterogeneity, workers must at the margin place a higher valuation on a dollar of wages than a dollar of benefits since otherwise an employer could profit by switching compensation from wages to fringes. Worker heterogeneity modifies this result and reinforces any causal relationship between fringe benefits and turnover provided that more stable workers have a greater preference for compensation in the form of fringes.

Suggested Citation

  • Harley Frazis & Mark A. Loewenstein, 2009. "How Responsive are Quits to Benefits?," Working Papers 426, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bls:wpaper:ec090040
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Frank A. Scott & Mark C. Berger & Dan A. Black, 1989. "Effects of the Tax Treatment of Fringe Benefits on Labor Market Segmentation," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 42(2), pages 216-229, January.
    2. Woodbury, Stephen A, 1983. "Substitution between Wage and Nonwage Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 166-182, March.
    3. Michael Rothschild & Joseph Stiglitz, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(4), pages 629-649.
    4. Woodbury, Stephen A & Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1992. "Taxes, Fringe Benefits and Faculty," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(2), pages 287-296, May.
    5. Alan L. Gustman & Olivia S. Mitchell & Thomas L. Steinmeier, 1994. "The Role of Pensions in the Labor Market: A Survey of the Literature," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(3), pages 417-438, April.
    6. Dale-Olsen, Harald, 2006. "Wages, fringe benefits and worker turnover," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 87-105, February.
    7. Thomas C. Buchmueller & Robert G. Valletta, 1996. "The Effects of Employer-Provided Health Insurance on Worker Mobility," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 49(3), pages 439-455, April.
    8. Richard A. Ippolito, 1991. "Encouraging Long-Term Tenure: Wage Tilt or Pensions?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 44(3), pages 520-535, April.
    9. Helen Levy, 1998. "Who Pays for Health Insurance? Employee Contributions to Health Insurance Premiums," Working Papers 777, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    10. Mark C. Berger & Dan A. Black & Frank A. Scott, 2004. "Is There Job Lock? Evidence from the Pre-HIPAA Era," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 953-976, April.
    11. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1982. "Fringe Benefits and Labor Mobility," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(2), pages 286-298.
    12. Brigitte C. Madrian, 1994. "Employment-Based Health Insurance and Job Mobility: Is there Evidence of Job-Lock?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(1), pages 27-54.
    13. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1983. "Fringe Benefits and the Cost of Changing Jobs," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 37(1), pages 70-78, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel T. Winkler & W. Keener Hughen, 2012. "Fringe Benefits Compensation of Real Estate Agents and Brokers," International Real Estate Review, Asian Real Estate Society, vol. 15(3), pages 253-281.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Turnover; Fringe Benefits;

    JEL classification:

    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions

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