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Wage Comparisons in and out of the Firm. Evidence from a Matched Employer-Employee French Database

  • Olivier Godechot

    (IEP Paris - Sciences Po Paris - Institut d'études politiques de Paris, OSC - Observatoire sociologique du changement - Sciences Po - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, MaxPo - Max Planck Sciences Po Center on Coping with Instability in Market Societies - IEP Paris - Sciences Po Paris - Institut d'études politiques de Paris - Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies)

  • Claudia Senik

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics, PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - École des Ponts ParisTech (ENPC), UP4 - Université Paris-Sorbonne)

This paper looks at the association between wage satisfaction and different notions of reference wage, based on a matched employer-employee dataset. It shows that workers' satisfaction depends on otherpeople's income in different ways. Relative income concerns are important, but we also find robust evidence of signal effects. For instance, workers are happier the higher the median wage in their firm, holding their own wage constant. This is true of all employees, whatever their relative position in the firm. This signal effect is stronger for young people and for women. These findings are based on objective measures of earnings as well as subjective declarations about wage satisfaction, awareness of other people's wage and reported income comparisons.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series PSE Working Papers with number halshs-00907268.

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Date of creation: Nov 2013
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Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-00907268
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  1. Akay, Alpaslan & Martinsson, Peter, 2011. "Does relative income matter for the very poor? Evidence from rural Ethiopia," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 110(3), pages 213-215, March.
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  4. Clark, Andrew E. & Senik, Claudia, 2009. "Who Compares to Whom? The Anatomy of Income Comparisons in Europe," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 0907, CEPREMAP.
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  8. Luttmer, Erzo F. P., 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," Working Paper Series rwp04-029, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  9. Senik, Claudia, 2009. "Direct evidence on income comparisons and their welfare effects," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 408-424, October.
  10. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
  11. Akay, Alpaslan & Bargain, Olivier & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2012. "Relative concerns of rural-to-urban migrants in China," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 421-441.
  12. Anthony B. Atkinson & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2011. "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-71, March.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
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