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Journal Articles The Economic Journal Year : 2009

Job satisfaction and co-worker wages: status or signal?

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Abstract

We use matched employer-employee panel data to show that individual job satisfaction is higher when other workers in the same establishment are better-paid. This runs counter to substantial existing evidence of income comparisons in subjective well-being. We argue that the difference hinges on the nature of the reference group. Here we use co-workers. Their earnings not only induce jealousy but also provide a signal about the worker's own future earnings. In our data, this positive future earnings signal outweighs any negative status effect. This phenomenon is stronger for men and in the private sector but weaker for those nearer retirement.

Dates and versions

halshs-00754388 , version 1 (20-11-2012)

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Andrew E. Clark, Nicolai Kristensen, Niels Westergaard-Nielsen. Job satisfaction and co-worker wages: status or signal?. The Economic Journal, 2009, 119 (536), pp.430-447. ⟨10.1111/j.1468-0297.2008.02236.x⟩. ⟨halshs-00754388⟩
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