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The social pay gap across occupations: Survey and experimental evidence

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  • Bublitz, Elisabeth
  • Regner, Tobias

Abstract

Receiving equal wages for work of equal value is a legal right in many countries. However, it remains unknown to what degree the neglect of this principle yields differences in pay between social and other occupations. The results of a task-based analysis with survey data confirm a notable wage penalty of 0.5 standard deviations for social occupations (e.g., health care, education). Based on these results, we design a laboratory experiment that mimics actual income distributions (Germany, USA), incorporates social occupations in the lab society, and allows for (voluntary) redistribution among subjects. The results show that, regardless of (non-)random assignment to social jobs and the level of income inequality, individuals in social jobs are only partly compensated for their social effort. A downward spiral, induced by emotional reactions, results as social effort and donations converge to a 'low' equilibrium. This suggests that a market approach fails to eliminate the social pay gap.

Suggested Citation

  • Bublitz, Elisabeth & Regner, Tobias, 2016. "The social pay gap across occupations: Survey and experimental evidence," HWWI Research Papers 174, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:hwwirp:174
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alexandra Spitz-Oener, 2006. "Technical Change, Job Tasks, and Rising Educational Demands: Looking outside the Wage Structure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 235-270, April.
    2. Elisabeth Bublitz, 2018. "Matching skills of individuals and firms along the career path," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 509-537.
    3. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    inequality; tasks data; redistribution; experiment; voluntary payments; social returns; externality;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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