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The Impact of Pay Comparisons on Effort Behavior

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  • Daniele Nosenzo

    (University of Nottingham)

Abstract

This study uses a three-person gift-exchange game experiment to examine the impact of pay comparisons on effort behavior. We compare effort choices made in a treatment where coworkers’ wages are secret with effort choices made in two ‘public wages’ treatments. The two ‘public wages’ treatments differ in whether co-workers’ wages are chosen by an employer, or are fixed exogenously by the experimenter. We find that pay comparison information has an overall detrimental impact on effort choices: employees respond less favorably to the wage offers made by the employer when they receive information about the wage paid to the co-worker as compared to the case where co-workers’ wages are secret. These effects are particularly pronounced in the treatment where the level of the co-worker’s wage is fixed exogenously.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniele Nosenzo, 2010. "The Impact of Pay Comparisons on Effort Behavior," Discussion Papers 2010-03, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  • Handle: RePEc:not:notcdx:2010-03
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    Cited by:

    1. Simon Gächter & Daniele Nosenzo & Martin Sefton, 2012. "The Impact of Social Comparisons on Reciprocity," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(4), pages 1346-1367, December.
    2. Gross, Till & Guo, Christopher & Charness, Gary, 2015. "Merit pay and wage compression with productivity differences and uncertainty," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 233-247.
    3. Simon Gächter & Daniele Nosenzo & Martin Sefton, 2013. "Peer Effects In Pro-Social Behavior: Social Norms Or Social Preferences?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 548-573, June.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    social comparisons; wage comparisons; gift exchange; experiments;

    JEL classification:

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

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