IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Inequality Aversion and Performance in and on the Field

  • Benno Torgler
  • Markus Schaffner
  • Bruno S. Frey
  • Sascha L. Schmidt
  • Uwe Dulleck

The experimental literature and studies using survey data have established that people care a great deal about their relative economic position and not solely, as standard economic theory assumes, about their absolute economic position. Individuals are concerned about social comparisons. However, behavioral evidence in the field is rare. This paper provides an empirical analysis, testing the model of inequality aversion using two unique panel data sets for basketball and soccer players. We find support that the concept of inequality aversion helps to understand how the relative income situation affects performance in a real competitive environment with real tasks and real incentives.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: Full Text
Download Restriction: no

File URL:
File Function: Abstract
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA) in its series CREMA Working Paper Series with number 2008-18.

in new window

Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2008-18
Contact details of provider: Postal: Gellerstrasse 24, 4052 Basel
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1994. "Satisfaction and comparison income," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9408, CEPREMAP.
  2. John A. List, 2006. "The Behavioralist Meets the Market: Measuring Social Preferences and Reputation Effects in Actual Transactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-37, February.
  3. Alois Stutzer, . "The Role of Income Aspirations in Individual Happiness," IEW - Working Papers 124, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  5. Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Martinsson, Peter, 2003. "Do You Enjoy Having More Than Others? Survey Evidence of Positional Goods," Working Papers in Economics 100, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  6. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
  7. Stefan Szymanski, 2003. "The Economic Design of Sporting Contests," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1137-1187, December.
  8. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 10667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Hey, John D & Lambert, Peter J, 1980. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient: Comment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 95(3), pages 567-73, November.
  10. Thomas Hoehn & Stefan Szymanski, 1999. "The Americanization of European football," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 14(28), pages 203-240, 04.
  11. Bolton, Gary E, 1991. "A Comparative Model of Bargaining: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1096-136, December.
  12. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
  13. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  14. Sara J. Solnick & David Hemenway, 2005. "Are Positional Concerns Stronger in Some Domains than in Others?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 147-151, May.
  15. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada, 2005. "Income and well-being: an empirical analysis of the comparison income effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 997-1019, June.
  16. Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1997. "A Case for Happiness, Cardinalism, and Interpersonal Comparability," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1848-58, November.
  17. Ehrenberg, Ronald G & Bognanno, Michael L, 1990. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1307-24, December.
  18. Olof Johansson-Stenman & Fredrik Carlsson & Dinky Daruvala, 2002. "Measuring Future Grandparents" Preferences for Equality and Relative Standing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 362-383, April.
  19. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  20. Claudia Senik, 2008. "Ambition and Jealousy: Income Interactions in the 'Old' Europe versus the 'New' Europe and the United States," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 75(299), pages 495-513, 08.
  21. Gibbons, R. & Murphy, K.J., 1989. "Relative Performance Evaluation For Chief Executive Officers," Working papers 532, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  22. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
  23. Neumark, David & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1998. "Relative income concerns and the rise in married women's employment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 157-183, October.
  24. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2001. "How Much Do We Care About Absolute Versus Relative Income and Consumption?," Working Papers in Economics 63, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  25. David Gill & Rebecca Stone, 2006. "Fairness and Desert in Tournaments," Economics Series Working Papers 279, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  26. Jensen, M.C. & Murphy, K.J., 1988. "Performance Pay And Top Management Incentives," Papers 88-04, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
  27. Vendrik, Maarten C.M. & Woltjer, Geert B., 2007. "Happiness and loss aversion: Is utility concave or convex in relative income?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(7-8), pages 1423-1448, August.
  28. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt3d04q5sm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  29. John A. List, 2004. "Young, Selfish and Male: Field evidence of social preferences," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(492), pages 121-149, 01.
  30. Frank, Robert H, 1997. "The Frame of Reference as a Public Good," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1832-47, November.
  31. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1979. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 321-24, May.
  32. Erik E. Lehmann & G√ľnther G. Schulze, 2007. "What does it take to be a star? The role of performance and the media for German soccer players," Discussion Paper Series 1, Department of International Economic Policy, University of Freiburg, revised Mar 2008.
  33. Bruno S. Frey, 2008. "Happiness: A Revolution in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262062771, June.
  34. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2005. "Social Preferences and the Response to Incentives: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 917-962, August.
  35. Orszag, Jonathan M., 1994. "A new look at incentive effects and golf tournaments," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 77-88, September.
  36. Michael T. Maloney & Robert E. McCormick, 2000. "The Response of Workers to Wages in Tournaments," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 1(2), pages 99-123, May.
  37. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Michael L. Bognanno, 1990. "The incentive effects of tournaments revisited: Evidence from the European PGA tour," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 74-88, February.
  38. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
  39. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "Pay Enough Or Don'T Pay At All," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 791-810, August.
  40. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
  41. McBride, Michael, 2001. "Relative-income effects on subjective well-being in the cross-section," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 251-278, July.
  42. Kahn, Lawrence M & Sherer, Peter D, 1988. "Racial Differences in Professional Basketball Players' Compensation," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(1), pages 40-61, January.
  43. Sunde, Uwe, 2003. "Potential, Prizes and Performance: Testing Tournament Theory with Professional Tennis Data," IZA Discussion Papers 947, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  44. Sue Fernie & David Metcalf, 1999. "It's Not What You Pay it's the Way that You Pay it and that's What Gets Results: Jockeys' Pay and Performance," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 13(2), pages 385-411, 06.
  45. J. Solnick, Sara & Hemenway, David, 1998. "Is more always better?: A survey on positional concerns," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 373-383, November.
  46. James G. Lynch & Jeffrey S. Zax, 2000. "The Rewards to Running," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 1(4), pages 323-340, November.
  47. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 0042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  48. John M. Abowd, 1990. "Does performance-based managerial compensation affect corporate performance?," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(3), pages 52-73, February.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2008-18. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Anna-Lea Werlen)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.