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Valuing Alternative Work Arrangements

Listed author(s):
  • Alexandre Mas
  • Amanda Pallais

We use a field experiment to study how workers value alternative work arrangements. During the application process to staff a national call center we randomly offered applicants choices between traditional M-F 9am - 5pm office positions and alternatives. These alternatives include flexible scheduling, working from home, and positions that give the employer discretion over scheduling. We randomlyvaried the wage difference between the traditional option and the alternative, allowing us to estimate the entire distribution of willingness to pay (WTP) for these alternatives. We validate our results using a nationally-representative survey. The great majority of workers are not willing to pay for flexible scheduling relative to a traditional schedule: either the ability to choose the days and times of work or the number of hours they work. However, the average worker is willing to give up 20% of wages to avoid a schedule set by an employer on a week's notice. This largely represents workers' aversion to evening and weekend work, not scheduling unpredictability. Traditional M-F 9am - 5pm schedules are preferred by most jobseekers. Despite the fact that the average worker isn't willing to pay for scheduling flexibility, a tail of workers with high WTP allows for sizable compensating differentials. Of the workerfriendly options we test, workers are willing to pay the most (8% of wages) for the option of working from home. Women, particularly those with young children, have higher WTP for work from home and to avoid employer scheduling discretion. They are slightly more likely to be in jobs with these amenities, but the differences are not large enough to explain any wage gaps.

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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Natural Field Experiments with number 00573.

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Date of creation: 2016
Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00573
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

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  1. DiNardo, John & Fortin, Nicole M & Lemieux, Thomas, 1996. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1001-1044, September.
  2. Alan B. Krueger & David Schkade, 2008. "Sorting in the Labor Market: Do Gregarious Workers Flock to Interactive Jobs?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
  3. Kevin Lang & Sumon Majumdar, 2004. "The Pricing Of Job Characteristics When Markets Do Not Clear: Theory And Policy Implications," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(4), pages 1111-1128, November.
  4. Christopher Taber & Rune Vejlin, 2012. "Estimation of a Roy/Search/Compensating Differential Model of the Labor Market," 2012 Meeting Papers 566, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Isaac Sorkin, 2016. "Ranking Firms Using Revealed Preference," 2016 Meeting Papers 66, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Lanfranchi, Joseph & Ohlsson, Henry & Skalli, Ali, 2002. "Compensating wage differentials and shift work preferences," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 393-398, February.
  7. Jeffrey A. Flory & Andreas Leibbrandt & John A. List, 2015. "Do Competitive Workplaces Deter Female Workers? A Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment on Job Entry Decisions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(1), pages 122-155.
  8. Scott Stern, 2004. "Do Scientists Pay to Be Scientists?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(6), pages 835-853, June.
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