Monday, November 17, 2008

Relative status

I was reading Bruno Frey et. al.'s Relative Income Position And Performance: An Empirical Panel Analysis and this passage:

There are two countervailing theories about how income differences influence performance. One stream of literature stresses the negative consequences of envy (see, e.g., Schoeck 1966). An envious person may “prefer that others have less, and he might even sacrifice a little of his own wealth to achieve that end” (Zeckhauser 1991, p. 10), behavior that has been found in experiments (see, e.g., Kirchsteiger 1994). An envious person increases his utility by destroying some of the others’ assets, even if such an action carries its own costs (cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face). Thus a negative sum interaction is started.

reminded me of another passage in Robert Rubin's An Uncertain World.
Bob Strauss once captured this dynamic when he said that a lawyer at his firm earning $90,000 a year -- this was some time ago -- and offered a $10,000 raise with the stipulation that a peer next door would get a $20,000 raise would prefer no raise at all to someone on his own level being paid even more. (p. 102)

The bottom line of the paper:
Using a unique data set for 1114 soccer players over a period of eight seasons (2833 observations), our analysis suggests that the larger the income differences within a team, the worse the performance of the soccer players is. The more the players are integrated n a particular social environment (their team), the more evident this negative effect is.

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