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Income Inequality and Job Satisfaction of Full-Time Employees in Germany


  • Wunder, Christoph

    () (Martin-Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg)

  • Schwarze, Johannes

    (University of Bamberg)


Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (GSOEP), it is shown that income comparison with persons who are better off has a clear impact on the job satisfaction of West German full-time employees. Two contrary effects can be identified. On the one hand, there is an aversion to disadvantageous regional income inequality, while on the other hand, individuals prefer inequality within their occupational group. The two effects are interpreted as envy and an information (or “tunnel”) effect, respectively. The analysis of income comparison with persons who are worse off suggests a prestige effect. However, downward comparison is of minor importance for job satisfaction.

Suggested Citation

  • Wunder, Christoph & Schwarze, Johannes, 2006. "Income Inequality and Job Satisfaction of Full-Time Employees in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 2084, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2084

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ambra Poggi, 2010. "Within-establishment wage inequality and satisfaction," LABORatorio R. Revelli Working Papers Series 100, LABORatorio R. Revelli, Centre for Employment Studies.
    2. Conchita D'Ambrosio & Joachim R. Frick, 2012. "Individual Wellbeing in a Dynamic Perspective," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 79(314), pages 284-302, April.
    3. Benno Torgler & Markus Schaffner & Sascha L. Schmidt & Bruno S. Frey, 2008. "Do Employees Care about their Relative Position? Behavioural Evidence Focusing on Performance," CREMA Working Paper Series 2008-12, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).

    More about this item


    social comparison; German Socio-Economic Panel Study (GSOEP); prestige; envy; job satisfaction; income inequality; information effect (tunnel effect);

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution

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