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Fairness and Freight-Handlers: Local Labor-Market Conditions and Wage-Fairness Perceptions in a Trucking Firm

  • Verhoogen, Eric

    ()

    (Columbia University)

  • Burks, Stephen V.

    ()

    (University of Minnesota, Morris)

  • Carpenter, Jeffrey P.

    ()

    (Middlebury College)

This paper draws on evidence from an internal attitude survey in the freight-handling terminals of a unionized trucking firm to investigate the effect of local labor market conditions on employee wage-fairness perceptions. The key element of our research design is that local managers have no discretion to vary wage rates in response to local labor market conditions; local economic shocks thus generate exogenous variation in the attractiveness of the wage paid by the firm relative to employees’ options in the outside labor market. We find robust associations between two indicators of local conditions – the rate of unemployment and the wages of similar workers in the outside market – and the wage-fairness perceptions of employees in the firm, which we argue reflects a causal relationship. As an extension, we relate the changes in local conditions and fairness perceptions to changes in employee performance, as measured by the rate of disciplinary dismissals. We find suggestive evidence that increased local unemployment leads to improved employee performance, and, conditional on a particular assumption about the mechanism through which local conditions affect performance, that increases in wage-fairness perceptions lead employees to supply more effort.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1352.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1352
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  1. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  2. Murphy, Kevin M & Topel, Robert H, 1985. "Estimation and Inference in Two-Step Econometric Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(4), pages 370-79, October.
  3. Campbell, Carl M, III & Kamlani, Kunal S, 1997. "The Reasons for Wage Rigidity: Evidence from a Survey of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 759-89, August.
  4. Bowles, Samuel, 1985. "The Production Process in a Competitive Economy: Walrasian, Neo-Hobbesian, and Marxian Models," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 16-36, March.
  5. George A. Akerlof & Andrew K. Rose & Janet L. Yellen, 1988. "Job Switching and Job Satisfaction in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(2), pages 495-594.
  6. Cappelli, Peter & Chauvin, Keith, 1991. "An Interplant Test of the Efficiency Wage Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(3), pages 769-87, August.
  7. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  8. Barry T. Hirsch & Edward J. Schumacher, 2004. "Match Bias in Wage Gap Estimates Due to Earnings Imputation," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 689-722, July.
  9. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  10. Michael H. Belzer, 1995. "Collective bargaining after deregulation: Do the Teamsters still count?," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(4), pages 636-655, July.
  11. Simon Gächter & Ernst Fehr, . "Fairness in the Labour Market – A Survey of Experimental Results," IEW - Working Papers 114, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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