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Cardiovascular Consequences of Unfair Pay

  • Armin Falk
  • Ingo Menrath
  • Pablo Emilio Verde
  • Johannes Siegrist

This paper investigates physiological responses to perceptions of unfair pay. In a simple principal agent experiment agents produce revenue by working on a tedious task. Principals decide how this revenue is allocated between themselves and their agents. In this environment unfairness can arise if an agent's reward expectation is not met. Throughout the experiment we record agents' heart rate variability. Our findings provide evidence of a link between perceived unfairness and heart rate variability.The latter is an indicator of stressrelated impaired cardiac autonomic control, which has been shown to predict coronary heart diseases in the long run. Establishing a causal link between unfair pay and heart rate variability therefore uncovers a mechanism of how perceptions of unfairness can adversely affect cardiovascular health. Wefurther test potential adverse health effects of unfair pay using data from a large representative data set. Complementary to our experimental findings we find a strong and highly significant association between health outcomes, in particular cardiovascular health, and fairness of pay.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.373176.de/diw_sp0380.pdf
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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 380.

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Length: 25 p.
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp380
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  1. 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.
  2. Janet Currie & Brigitte C. Madrian, 1998. "Health, Health Insurance and the Labor Market," JCPR Working Papers 27, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  3. Altmann, Steffen & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David B., 2010. "Implicit Contracts, Unemployment, and Labor Market Segmentation," IZA Discussion Papers 5001, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  5. Armin Falk & James J. Heckman, 2009. "Lab Experiments are a Major Source of Knowledge in the Social Sciences," Working Papers 200935, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  6. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gachter, 2010. "Social Preferences, Beliefs, and the Dynamics of Free Riding in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 541-56, March.
  7. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Agell, Jonas & Lundborg, Per, 1993. "Theories of Pay and Unemployment: Survey Evidence from Swedish Manufacturing Firms," Working Paper Series 380, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  9. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2008. "Representative Trust And Reciprocity: Prevalence And Determinants," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 46(1), pages 84-90, 01.
  10. Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2002. "Maintenance of and Innovation in Long-Term Panel Studies: The Case of the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP)," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 276, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  11. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
  12. Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
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