Perceptions of Equity and the Distribution of Income
NBER Working Paper No. 5624
This paper builds a simple model where there is a link between employees' perception of the fairness of employers and the actual distribution of income. Wages are based in part on employers' assessments of the productivity of individual employees. I show that the equilibrium distribution of income depends on the beliefs of employees concerning the accuracy of these evaluations. I give conditions under which the distribution of income across employees of the same vintage is more equal if employees believe that these evaluations are generally inaccurate (so that they are skeptical of capitalists in general) than when they believe that these evaluations are accurate. The model is consistent with the fact that, in a sample of seven countries, the distribution of income is more unequal in countries where people feel that income inequality is not too large.
Published: Rotemberg, Julio J. "Perceptions Of Equity And The Distribution Of Income," Journal of Labor Economics, 2002, v20(2,Apr), Part 1, 249-288.