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Performance Pay and Wage Inequality

Listed author(s):
  • Thomas Lemieux
  • W. Bentley MacLeod
  • Daniel Parent

We document that an increasing fraction of jobs in the U.S. labor market explicitly pay workers for their performance using bonuses, commissions, or piece-rates. We find that compensation in performance-pay jobs is more closely tied to both observed (by the econometrician) and unobserved productive characteristics of workers. Moreover, the growing incidence of performance-pay can explain 24 percent of the growth in the variance of male wages between the late 1970s and the early 1990s, and accounts for nearly all of the top-end growth in wage dispersion(above the 80th percentile).

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13128.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13128.

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Date of creation: May 2007
Publication status: published as Thomas Lemieux & W. Bentley MacLeod & Daniel Parent, 2009. "Performance Pay and Wage Inequality-super-," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(1), pages 1-49, February.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13128
Note: LS
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  8. David Card & Dean Hyslop, 1997. "Does Inflation "Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market"?," NBER Chapters, in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 71-122 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Daniel Parent, 1999. "Methods of Pay and Earnings: A Longitudinal Analysis," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 53(1), pages 71-86, October.
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  14. Lemieux, Thomas, 1998. "Estimating the Effects of Unions on Wage Inequality in a Panel Data Model with Comparative Advantage and Nonrandom Selection," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 261-291, April.
  15. Gibbons, R. & Katz, L., 1989. "Does Unmeasured Ability Explain Inter-Industry Wage Differences," Working papers 543, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  16. Robert Gibbons & Lawrence F. Katz & Thomas Lemieux & Daniel Parent, 2005. "Comparative Advantage, Learning, and Sectoral Wage Determination," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 681-724, October.
  17. Card, David, 1996. "The Effect of Unions on the Structure of Wages: A Longitudinal Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(4), pages 957-979, July.
  18. W. Bentley MacLeod & Daniel Parent, 1998. "Job Characteristics and the Form of Compensation," CIRANO Working Papers 98s-08, CIRANO.
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  25. Robert Gibbons, 1996. "Incentives and Careers in Organizations," NBER Working Papers 5705, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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