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What is a fair wage? Reference points, Entitlements and Gift Exchange

  • Eleonora Bottino
  • Cintia Goddio
  • Praveen Kujal

    ()

Society adopts institutions that can change incentives, reference points and entitlements for the economic agents. In this paper we look at two stylized wage setting institutions and their effect on wage offers and effort in the classic gift exchange experiments of Fehr, Kirchsteiger and Riedl (1993). The first one is the exogenously imposed minimum wage institution (first instituted in New Zealand in 1894). The second institution we look is an endogenous wage proposal institution where workers first make wage proposals. We find that the imposition of an exogenous minimum wage floor at the competitive outcome lowers average wage offers. However, workers do not negatively reciprocate and continue to offer high effort. In the second institution workers make non-binding (endogenous) minimum wage proposals. The introduction of endogenous minimum wage proposals marginally increases wage offers while, average effort decreases when wage proposals are not matched. Finally, relative to the baseline, overall efficiency with the non-binding minimum wage decreases, while, efficiency is only slightly higher under endogenous minimum wage proposals. We find that clear evidence that the institutional structure has important implications towards wage offers, effort and efficiency.

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Paper provided by Chapman University, Economic Science Institute in its series Working Papers with number 13-29.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:chu:wpaper:13-29
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  1. Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, . "On the Nature of Fair Behavior," IEW - Working Papers 017, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  3. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  4. Isaac, R Mark & Plott, Charles R, 1981. "Price Controls and the Behavior of Auction Markets: An Experimental Examination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 448-59, June.
  5. Smith, Vernon L & Williams, Arlington W, 1981. "On Nonbinding Price Controls in a Competitive Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 467-74, June.
  6. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-83, May.
  7. Kujal, Praveen, 1994. "Firm-specific output limits in a posted offer market: Distributive and efficiency effects," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 257-269, October.
  8. Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Goette & Christian Zehnder, 2009. "A Behavioral Account of the Labor Market: The Role of Fairness Concerns," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 355-384, 05.
  9. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2004. "Do Labour Market Conditions Affect Gift Exchange? Some Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 684-708, 07.
  10. Plott, Charles R. & Smith, Vernon L., . "An Experimental Examination of Two Exchange Institutions," Working Papers 83, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  11. Blinder, Alan S & Choi, Don H, 1990. "A Shred of Evidence on Theories of Wage Stickiness," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(4), pages 1003-15, November.
  12. Gary Charness & Ramon Cobo-Reyes & Natalia Jimenez & Juan A. Lacomba & Francisco Lagos, 2012. "The Hidden Advantage of Delegation: Pareto Improvements in a Gift Exchange Game," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2358-79, August.
  13. Michael Kosfeld & Armin Falk, 2006. "The Hidden Costs of Control," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1611-1630, December.
  14. 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.
  15. Brown, Charles, 1988. "Minimum Wage Laws: Are They Overrated?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 133-45, Summer.
  16. Brown, Charles, 1999. "Minimum wages, employment, and the distribution of income," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 32, pages 2101-2163 Elsevier.
  17. Smith, Vernon L, 1991. "Rational Choice: The Contrast between Economics and Psychology," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 877-97, August.
  18. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1988. "Fairness and Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 44-49, May.
  19. Walker, James M. & Williams, Arlington W., 1988. "Market behavior in bid, offer, and double auctions : A Reexmination," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 301-314, April.
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