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Social Comparison and Performance: Experimental Evidence on the Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis

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  • Simon Gaechter

    () (University of Nottingham)

  • Christian Thoeni

    () (University of St. Gallen)

Abstract

We investigate the impact of wage comparisons for worker productivity. We present three studies which all use three-person gift-exchange experiments. Consistent with Akerlof and Yellen's (1990) fair wage-effort hypothesis we find that disadvantageous wage discrimination leads to lower efforts while advantageous wage discrimination does not increase efforts on average. Two studies allow us to measure wage comparison effects at the individual level. We observe strongly heterogeneous wage comparison effects. We also find that reactions to wage discrimination can be attributed to the underlying intentions of discrimination rather than to payoff consequences.

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Gaechter & Christian Thoeni, 2009. "Social Comparison and Performance: Experimental Evidence on the Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis," Discussion Papers 2009-23, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  • Handle: RePEc:not:notcdx:2009-23
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    fair wage-effort hypothesis; wage comparison; gift exchange; horizontal fairness; discrimination;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior

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