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Output and Wages with Inequality Averse Agents

  • Dominique Demougin
  • Claude Fluet
  • Carsten Helm

We analyze a two-task work environment with risk-neutral but inequality averse individuals. For the agent employed in task 2 effort is verifiable, while in task 1 it is not. Accordingly, agent 1 receives an incentive contract which, due to his wealth constraint, leads to a rent that the other agent resents. We show that inequality aversion affects the optimal contracts of both agents. Greater inequality aversion reduces the effort, wage and payoff of agent 1, while the effects on the wage and effort of agent 2 depend on whether effort levels across tasks are substitutes or complements in the firm's output function. However, more inequality aversion unambiguously decreases total output and therefore average labor productivity.

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Paper provided by CIRPEE in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 0419.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:0419
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  1. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output per Worker than Others?," NBER Working Papers 6564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Schwarze, Johannes & Härpfer, Marco, 2003. "Are People Inequality Averse, and Do They Prefer Redistribution by the State? A Revised Version," IZA Discussion Papers 974, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Luis Garicano, 2000. "Hierarchies and the Organization of Knowledge in Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 874-904, October.
  4. Dominique Demougin & Claude Fluet, 2003. "Group vs. Individual Performance Pay When Workers Are Envious," Cahiers de recherche 0318, CIRPEE.
  5. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2009-2042, August.
  6. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  7. Demougin, Dominique & Fluet, Claude, 2001. "Monitoring versus incentives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(9), pages 1741-1764, October.
  8. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2001. "Theories of Fairness and Reciprocity," Discussion Papers in Economics 14, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  9. Benjamin Bental & Dominique Demougin, 2003. "Incentive Contracts and Total Factor Productivity," Cahiers de recherche 0325, CIRPEE.
  10. Hideshi Itoh, 2004. "Moral Hazard and Other-Regarding Preferences," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 55(1), pages 18-45.
  11. James Konow, 2003. "Which Is the Fairest One of All? A Positive Analysis of Justice Theories," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1188-1239, December.
  12. Florian Englmaier & Achim Wambach, 2002. "Contracts and Inequity Aversion," CESifo Working Paper Series 809, CESifo Group Munich.
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