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Does it pay to be productive ?The case of age groups

  • Alessandra Cataldi
  • Stephan Kampelmann
  • François Rycx

Using longitudinal matched employer-employee data for the period 1999-2006, we investigate the relationship between age, wage and productivity in the Belgian private sector. More precisely, we examine how changes in the proportions of young (16-29 years), middle-aged (30-49 years) and older (more than 49 years) workers affect the productivity of firms and test for the presence of productivity-wage gaps. Results (robust to various potential econometric issues, including unobserved firm heterogeneity, endogeneity and state dependence) suggest that workers older than 49 are significantly less productive than prime age and young workers. In contrast, the productivity of middle-age workers is not found to be significantly different compared to young workers. Findings further indicate that average hourly wages within firms increase significantly and monotonically with age. Overall, this leads to the conclusion that young workers are paid below their marginal productivity while older workers appear to be “overpaid” and lends empirical support to theories of deferred compensation over the life-cycle (Lazear, 1979).

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Paper provided by ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles in its series Working Papers CEB with number 11-032.

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Length: 28 p.
Date of creation: Aug 2011
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Publication status: Published by:
Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:2013/95807
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  1. Bertschek, Irene & Meyer, Jenny, 2008. "Do Older Workers Lower IT-Enabled Productivity? Firm-Level Evidence from Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 08-129, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  2. van Ours, J.C. & Stoeldraijer, L., 2010. "Age, Wage and Productivity," Discussion Paper 2010-12, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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  5. Göbel, Christian & Zwick, Thomas, 2009. "Age and productivity: evidence from linked employer employee data," ZEW Discussion Papers 09-020, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
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  7. Grund, Christian & Westergård-Nielsen, Niels, 2005. "Age Structure of the Workforce and Firm Performance," Working Papers 05-10, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
  8. Vegard Skirbekk, 2003. "Age and individual productivity: a literature survey," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2003-028, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  9. Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "Personnel Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121883, December.
  10. Edward P. Lazear & Paul Oyer, 2012. "Personnel Economics," Introductory Chapters, in: Robert Gibbons & John Roberts (ed.), The Handbook of Organizational Economics Princeton University Press.
  11. Judith Hellerstein & David Neumark, 2004. "Production Function and Wage Equation Estimation with Heterogenous Labor: Evidence from a New Matched Employer-Employee Dataset," Working Papers 04-05, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  12. Julia I. Lane & John C. Haltiwanger & James Spletzer, 1999. "Productivity Differences across Employers: The Roles of Employer Size, Age, and Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 94-98, May.
  13. Malmberg, Bo & Lindh, Thomas & Halvarsson, Max, 2005. "Productivity consequences of workforce ageing - Stagnation or a Horndal effect?," Arbetsrapport 2005:17, Institute for Futures Studies.
  14. Haegeland, T. & Klette, T.J., 1998. "Do Higher Wages Reflect Higher Productivity? Education, Gender and Experience Premiums in a Matched Plant-Worker Data Set," Memorandum 24/1998, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  15. Cardoso, Ana Rute & Guimaraes, Paulo & Varejão, José, 2010. "Are Older Workers Worthy of Their Pay? An Empirical Investigation of Age-Productivity and Age-Wage Nexuses," IZA Discussion Papers 5121, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Thierry Lallemand & François Rycx, 2009. "Are Older Workers Harmful for Firm Productivity?," De Economist, Springer, vol. 157(3), pages 273-292, September.
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