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Performance Pay and Wage Inequality

  • 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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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
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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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  24. 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 261-91, April.
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