IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Big Fish in Small Pond or Small Fish in Big Pond? An Analysis of Job Mobility


  • Cardoso, Ana Rute

    () (IAE Barcelona (CSIC))


The statement that individuals care for status and for their position within a hierarchy has been subject to sparse economic analysis. I check this assertion by analyzing wages and status within the firm, with status measured as the worker rank in the firm wage hierarchy. More precisely, I focus on worker mobility between jobs, to compare movers and stayers in terms of gains/losses in wage level versus gains/losses in rank position. The following questions are addressed: Upon switching firm, what do workers gain/loose in terms of wage and in terms of rank position? Is there a trade-off between wage and rank? If so, does it vary across groups of workers? A remarkable longitudinal linked employer-employee dataset is used. Estimation takes account of worker unobserved heterogeneity. Results indicate that movers are subject to slower rank progression than stayers. That penalty is larger the larger the new firm when compared to the old one. Moreover, faster rank progression is achieved by movers at the price of slower wage progression, suggesting the existence of a trade-off between wage and status.

Suggested Citation

  • Cardoso, Ana Rute, 2005. "Big Fish in Small Pond or Small Fish in Big Pond? An Analysis of Job Mobility," IZA Discussion Papers 1900, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1900

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Neumark, David & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1998. "Relative income concerns and the rise in married women's employment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 157-183, October.
    2. Brown, Gordon D. A. & Gardner, Jonathan & Oswald, Andrew J. & Qian, Jing, 2005. "Does Wage Rank Affect Employees' Wellbeing?," IZA Discussion Papers 1505, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Robert H. Frank, 2005. "Positional Externalities Cause Large and Preventable Welfare Losses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 137-141, May.
    4. Charness, Gary & Kuhn, Peter J., 2004. "Do Co-Workers’ Wages Matter? Theory and Evidence on Wage Secrecy, Wage Compression and Effort," IZA Discussion Papers 1417, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Chaim Fershtman, 1993. "Social Status," Discussion Papers 1054, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    6. Wim Groot & Henriette Maassen Van Den Brink, 1999. "Overpayment and earnings satisfaction: an application of an ordered response Tobit Model," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(4), pages 235-238.
    7. Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2004. "Running to Keep in the Same Place: Consumer Choice as a Game of Status," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1085-1107, September.
    8. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1975. "Interdependence in the Labour Market," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 42(168), pages 420-429, November.
    9. Robson, Arthur J, 1992. "Status, the Distribution of Wealth, Private and Social Attitudes to Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 837-857, July.
    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. Weiss, Yoram & Fershtman, Chaim, 1998. "Social status and economic performance:: A survey," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 801-820, May.
    12. Fershtman, Chaim & Weiss, Yoram, 1993. "Social Status, Culture and Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(419), pages 946-959, July.
    13. Brown, Charles & Medoff, James, 1989. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1027-1059, October.
    14. Layard, Richard, 1980. "Human Satisfactions and Public Policy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(363), pages 737-750, December.
    15. Ward, Melanie E & Sloane, Peter J, 2000. "Non-pecuniary Advantages versus Pecuniary Disadvantages; Job Satisfaction among Male and Female Academics in Scottish Universities," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 47(3), pages 273-303, August.
    16. Frank, Robert H, 1984. "Are Workers Paid Their Marginal Products?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 549-571, September.
    17. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Ivan Werning, 2005. "The Equilibrium Distribution of Income and the Market for Status," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 282-310, April.
    18. Sara J. Solnick & David Hemenway, 2005. "Are Positional Concerns Stronger in Some Domains than in Others?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 147-151, May.
    19. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2001. "Theories of Fairness and Reciprocity," Discussion Papers in Economics 14, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. René Böheim & Ana Rute Cardoso, 2009. "Temporary Help Services Employment in Portugal, 1995-2000," NBER Chapters,in: Studies of Labor Market Intermediation, pages 309-334 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    job mobility; linked employer-employee data; wage structure; wage ranks;

    JEL classification:

    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1900. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.