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Do workers intend to work more if their wage compares well to that of their peers in the economy? A large-scale survey experiment
Last registered on June 06, 2014

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Do workers intend to work more if their wage compares well to that of their peers in the economy? A large-scale survey experiment
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0000289
Initial registration date
June 06, 2014
Last updated
June 06, 2014 9:31 AM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Amsterdam, Tinbergen Institute
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Erasmus University Rotterdam
PI Affiliation
Central European Labour Studies Institute
PI Affiliation
University of Amsterdam
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2014-03-05
End date
2015-04-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This project explores how workers respond to information about their position in the wage distribution of peers in the economy. We work together with a nationwide survey website in the Netherlands to implement a survey experiment. We ask all respondents about where they think they are in the wage distribution of peers in the economy. Next, we provide a random half of the respondents information about their 'true' position in the relevant wage distribution (using data recently gathered by the survey website). We compare job satisfaction, intention to quit current job, and willingness to exert effort of employees who are informed by us with those who are not. Moreover, we investigate how an employee's reciprocal inclinations and the presence of efficiency wage policies in the employee's workplace influence the treatment effects. Lastly, we examine one possible framing effect.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Dur, Robert et al. 2014. "Do workers intend to work more if their wage compares well to that of their peers in the economy? A large-scale survey experiment." AEA RCT Registry. June 06. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.289-1.0.
Former Citation
Dur, Robert et al. 2014. "Do workers intend to work more if their wage compares well to that of their peers in the economy? A large-scale survey experiment." AEA RCT Registry. June 06. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/289/history/1868.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
While completing an online questionnaire, respondents will be asked in what decile they think they are in the wage distribution of peers in the economy (defined as those with similar education, tenure, industry, and occupation). After answering that question, a randomized group of respondents will receive information about their 'true' position in this wage distribution. This position is computed by the website using recent historical survey data. The survey receives more than 50,000 responses each year, thus employees from the largest occupations have a big reference group to compare their wages with. We focus on the largest thirteen occupations according to the website's historical data, so that we have a sufficient number of observations to create peer wage distributions. People with other occupations are not included in this experiment.
Intervention Start Date
2014-03-05
Intervention End Date
2015-04-30
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
1) Job-related satisfaction (job satisfaction and wage satisfaction);

2) Intention to quit the current job;

3) Intended work effort (the willingness to work unpaid overtime and the willingness to work hard).

We test the following hypotheses:

1) A better than expected position in the peers' wage distribution increases job and wage satisfaction and decreases intention to quit. A worse than expected position decreases job and wage satisfaction and increases intention to quit.

2) A better than expected position in the peers' wage distribution increases intended work effort of workers who are reciprocal. A worse than expected position decreases intended work effort of workers who are reciprocal. The size of the response increases with reciprocal inclinations as well as with the difference between expected and true position.

3) A better than expected position in the peers' wage distribution increases intended work effort of workers of whom the employer dismisses under-performing employees. A worse than expected position decreases intended work effort of workers of whom the employer dismisses under-performing employees. The size of the response increases with the difference between expected and true position.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Satisfaction is measured on a one-to-five scale where "one" stands for "highly dissatisfied" and "five" means "highly satisfied". 

Work effort and intention to quit are also measured on a one-to-five scale where "one" means "fully disagree" and "five" means "fully agree".

We measure how employers treat employees who underperform using questions from the "NiDi" (Netherlands Interdisciplinair Demografisch Instituut) survey.

We measure the workers' reciprocal inclinations using a standard set of questions developed by Perugini et al. (2003) and included in the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (GSOEP) surveys. Specifically, participants will answer six questions (half is related to positive reciprocity and the other half to negative reciprocity) on a five-point scale indicating which statement fits them the best.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We work together with a widely used online labor market survey (50.000 annual visitors) in the Netherlands. Survey participants have a chance to win a prize in a monthly lottery worth more than 1,400 euro (monthly minimum wage in the Netherlands). During the survey, participants will be asked about their income, working environment, reciprocity, the way their employer deals with under-performing workers, and so on. We also ask all respondents in what decile they think they are in the wage distribution of peers in the economy (defined as those with similar education, tenure, industry, and occupation). Then we offer the treatment group with information about their 'true' position in the peers' wage distribution using data recently collected by the survey website. The control group does not receive this information. After this stage, each participant answers questions about job and wage satisfaction, intended work effort, and intention to quit current job.
Experimental Design Details
The website we cooperate with is www.loonwijzer.nl. According to the historical data from the survey we select thirteen occupations which contain sufficient observations to produce wage distributions for subsamples with similar education, tenure, and industry. Those occupations are: general office clerks, shop sales assistants, accounting associate professionals, commercial sales representatives, secretaries (general), construction supervisors, administrative and executive secretaries, statistical, finance and insurance clerks, advertising and marketing professionals, systems analysts, motor vehicle mechanics and repairers, managing directors and chief executives, sales and marketing managers.
Randomization Method
Randomization done by a computer program on the website: every eight minutes the participants are selected into either treatment group or control group.
Randomization Unit
Individual survey respondents who have reported one of the thirteen big occupations.
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Not applicable.
Sample size: planned number of observations
We aim for approximately 1,000 observations.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
50/50 randomization into treatment and control.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
April 30, 2015, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
No clusters
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
1474 individuals
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
762 in control treatment without information provision, 712 in information treatment.
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers