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The social pay gap across occupations: Survey and experimental evidence

Elisabeth Bublitz () and Tobias Regner

No 174, HWWI Research Papers from Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI)

Abstract: Receiving equal wages for work of equal value is a legal right in many countries. However, it remains unknown to what degree the neglect of this principle yields differences in pay between social and other occupations. The results of a task-based analysis with survey data confirm a notable wage penalty of 0.5 standard deviations for social occupations (e.g., health care, education). Based on these results, we design a laboratory experiment that mimics actual income distributions (Germany, USA), incorporates social occupations in the lab society, and allows for (voluntary) redistribution among subjects. The results show that, regardless of (non-)random assignment to social jobs and the level of income inequality, individuals in social jobs are only partly compensated for their social effort. A downward spiral, induced by emotional reactions, results as social effort and donations converge to a 'low' equilibrium. This suggests that a market approach fails to eliminate the social pay gap.

Keywords: inequality; tasks data; redistribution; experiment; voluntary payments; social returns; externality (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C90 D62 D63 H23 J31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp and nep-lma
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