Gender Quotas and Human Capital Formation: A Relative Deprivation Approach
German Economic Review,
We study a quota's effect on individual human capital investment incentives beyond merely altering individual's overall probability of being promoted. We assume that individuals sense relative deprivation from unfavorable (income) comparisons within their reference group and that comparisons take place within the same gender. The introduction of a female quota increases (decreases) the number of women (men) holding top positions. On one hand, the relative deprivation to which female individuals are subjected to increases. These female individuals respond to an increase in their relative deprivation by acquiring additional human capital which, because it enables them to increase their earnings, reduces their relative deprivation. On the other hand, male individuals invest less in human capital in response to a decrease in relative deprivation. We show that the human capital formed by women who are encouraged to do so by the quotas is larger than the human capital that men who are discouraged by the quotas refrain from forming. However, the positive human capital accumulation effect hinges on a certain level of ability by gender and on how much individuals perceive relative deprivation.
Social Distress and Economic Integration
IWH Discussion Papers,
We analyze whether social distress from income comparisons affects attitudes towards the integration of economies. Using Germany’s division as natural experiment, we find that East Germans’ feelings of relative deprivation with respect to better-off West Germans led to significantly more support for the upcoming German re-unification.
Relative Deprivation and Migration Preferences
In this letter, we overcome the existing shortages with respect to the assignment of individuals to reference groups and are the first to show that individual aversion to relative deprivation plays a decisive role in shaping migration preferences.
On the Economic Architecture of the Workplace: Repercussions of Social Comparisons among Heterogeneous Workers
Journal of Labor Economics,
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.