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On the economic architecture of the workplace: repercussions of social comparisons amongst heterogeneous workers

  • Hyll, Walter
  • Stark, Oded

We analyze the impact on a firm's profits and optimal wage rates, and on the distribution of workers' earnings, when workers compare their earnings with those of co-workers. We consider a low-productivity worker who receives lower wage earnings than a high-productivity worker. When the low-productivity worker derives (dis)utility not only from his own effort but also from comparing his earnings with those of the high-productivity worker, his response to the sensing of relative deprivation is to increase the optimal level of effort. Consequently, the firm's profits are higher, its wage rates remain unchanged, and the distribution of earnings is compressed.

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Paper provided by University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences in its series University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance with number 6.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:tuewef:6
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  1. BOSSERT, Walter & D'AMBROSIO, Conchita, 2004. "Reference Groups and Individual Deprivation," Cahiers de recherche 2004-10, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  2. Hanming Fang & Giuseppe Moscarini, 2003. "Morale Hazard," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1422, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  3. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
  4. Antonio Cabrales & Antoni Calvo-Armengol & Nicola Pavoni, 2005. "Social Preferences, Skill Segregation, and Wage Dynamics," 2005 Meeting Papers 205, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. C. Simon Fan & Oded Stark, 2007. "A Social Proximity Explanation of the Reluctance to Assimilate," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 55-63, 02.
  6. Alexandre Mas & Enrico Moretti, 2009. "Peers at Work," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 112-45, March.
  7. Stark, Oded & Micevska, Maja & Mycielski, Jerzy, 2009. "Relative poverty as a determinant of migration: Evidence from Poland," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 103(3), pages 119-122, June.
  8. Armin Falk & Andrea Ichino, 2006. "Clean Evidence on Peer Effects," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 39-58, January.
  9. Barton H. Hamilton & Jack A. Nickerson & Hideo Owan, 2003. "Team Incentives and Worker Heterogeneity: An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Teams on Productivity and Participation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(3), pages 465-497, June.
  10. Frank, Robert H, 1984. "Are Workers Paid Their Marginal Products?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 549-71, September.
  11. Paul Osterman, 2006. "The Wage Effects of High Performance Work Organization in Manufacturing," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 59(2), pages 187-204, January.
  12. Schelling, Thomas C, 1969. "Models of Segregation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 488-93, May.
  13. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2010. "Social Incentives in the Workplace," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(2), pages 417-458.
  14. Bull, Clive & Schotter, Andrew & Weigelt, Keith, 1987. "Tournaments and Piece Rates: An Experimental Study," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(1), pages 1-33, February.
  15. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Robert H. Frank, 1984. "Interdependent Preferences and the Competitive Wage Structure," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(4), pages 510-520, Winter.
  17. Paul Osterman, 2006. "Wage effects of high performance work organization in manufacturing," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 59(2), pages 187-204, January.
  18. Levine, David, 1989. "Cohesiveness, Productivity, and Wage Dispersion," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt8kd4d0p4, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  19. Sherwin Rosen, 1985. "Prizes and Incentives in Elimination Tournaments," NBER Working Papers 1668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Stark, Oded, 1984. "Rural-to-Urban Migration in LDCs: A Relative Deprivation Approach," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(3), pages 475-86, April.
  21. Stark, Oded & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1988. "Labour Migration as a Response to Relative Deprivation," MPRA Paper 21670, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  22. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  23. John Knight & Lina Song, 2007. "Subjective Well-being and its Determinants in Rural China," Economics Series Working Papers 334, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  24. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1979. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 321-24, May.
  25. Amihai Glazer, 2008. "Optimal Contracts When a Worker Envies His Boss," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 120-137, May.
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