Article

Coping with Low Pay: Cognitive Dissonance and Persistent Disparate Earnings Profiles

Citation

Watson D, Webb R & Birdi A (2004) Coping with Low Pay: Cognitive Dissonance and Persistent Disparate Earnings Profiles. Theory and Decision, 57 (4), p. 367–378. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11238-005-0121-2

Abstract
The paper focuses on an employee’s perception of his or her own labour market outcome. It proposes that the basic earnings function, by adopting an approach that ignores perception effects, is likely to result in biased results that will fail to understand the complexities of the wage distribution. The paper uses an orthodox job search framework to illustrate the nature of this problem and then adapts the model to take onboard the theory of cognitive dissonance. The search model indicates how workers may adopt a coping strategy in order to reduce the disutility associated with the wage underpayment that develops. Then, by modelling cognitive dissonance, the paper highlights the weaknesses of using purely human capital proxies to understand labour market outcome. The analysis goes some way to explaining why individuals with equivalent human capital investment can have disparate earnings profiles

Keywords
Cognitive dissonance; Job search model; Wage differentials

Journal
Theory and Decision: Volume 57, Issue 4

StatusPublished
FundersGlasgow Caledonian University
Publication date31/12/2004
Publication date online26/07/2005
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/30665
ISSN0040-5833
eISSN1573-7187