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Effort and comparison income: Survey and experimental evidence

  • Andrew E. Clark

    (IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor - IZA, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - École des Ponts ParisTech (ENPC))

  • David Masclet

    (CREM - Centre de Recherche en Economie et Management - UR1 - Université de Rennes 1 - Université de Caen Basse-Normandie - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Marie Claire Villeval

    ()

    (IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor - IZA, GATE Lyon Saint-Étienne - Groupe d'analyse et de théorie économique - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UCBL - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1 - UL2 - Université Lumière - Lyon 2 - Université Jean Monnet - Saint-Etienne - PRES Université de Lyon - ENS Lyon - École normale supérieure - Lyon)

This paper combines ISSP survey data and experimental evidence from a gift-exchange game to determine the effect of status or relative income on work effort. We find a strong effect of others' incomes on individual effort decisions in both datasets. The individual's rank in the income distribution has a more powerful effect on effort than does others' average income, suggesting that comparisons are more ordinal than cardinal. We further show that, controlling for own income and income rank, the width of the relevant income distribution matters, with effort increasing in the distance from the bottom of the income distribution. Last, effort is also affected by comparisons over time: those who received higher income offers or had higher income rank in the past exert lower levels of effort for a given current income.

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Date of creation: Jan 2006
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Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-00590552
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