The Tradeoff Between Redistribution and Effort: Evidence from the Field and from the Lab
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods Working Paper,
We use survey and experimental data to explore how effort choices and preferences for redistribution are linked. Under standard preferences, redistribution would reduce effort. This is different with social preferences. Using data from the World Value Survey, we find that respondents with stronger preferences for redistribution tend to have weaker incentives to engage in effort, but that the reverse does not hold true. Using a lab experiment, we show that redistribution choices even increase in imposed effort. Those with higher ability are willing to help the needy if earning income becomes more difficult for everybody.
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.