Economics at your fingertips  

Does Empathy Pay? Evidence on Empathy and Salaries of Recent College Graduates

Linda Kamas () and Anne Preston ()
Additional contact information
Linda Kamas: Santa Clara University
Anne Preston: Haverford College

Journal of Labor Research, 2020, vol. 41, issue 1, No 6, 169-188

Abstract: Abstract This paper examines linkages between empathy and salaries of recent college graduates. While it has been suggested that greater empathy enhances performance because empathic individuals work well with others and are good leaders, it is also possible that they will be less productive due to lower motivation to compete for pecuniary rewards or because they are considered to be too accommodating. Also, more empathic individuals may choose occupations that are more socially oriented and less well paid. We find a large, significant negative relationship between empathy and earnings for both men and women. While we cannot pinpoint the cause for this strong correlation or reach conclusions about causation, we find that empathic individuals choose college majors and sectors of employment that pay less. However, gender, major, and sector together do not account for the full negative relationship between empathy and salaries. While it seems likely that preferences lead more empathic people to choose lower paying occupations, we cannot eliminate the possibility that greater empathy has a negative effect on productivity.

Keywords: Empathy; Earnings; Personality; Prosocial (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link) Abstract (text/html)
Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link:

Ordering information: This journal article can be ordered from

DOI: 10.1007/s12122-020-09298-0

Access Statistics for this article

Journal of Labor Research is currently edited by Ozkan Eren

More articles in Journal of Labor Research from Springer
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Sonal Shukla () and Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing ().

Page updated 2021-02-06
Handle: RePEc:spr:jlabre:v:41:y:2020:i:1:d:10.1007_s12122-020-09298-0