NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Changing Distribution of Job Satisfaction

Daniel S. Hamermesh

NBER Working Paper No. 7332
Issued in September 1999
NBER Program(s):   LS

The distribution of job satisfaction widened across cohorts of young men in the United States between 1978 and 1988, and between 1978 and 1996, in ways correlated with changing wage inequality. Satisfaction among workers in upper earnings quantiles rose relative to that of workers in lower quantiles. An identical phenomenon is observed among men in West Germany in response to a sharp increase in the relative earnings of high-wage men in the mid-1990s. Several hypotheses about the determinants of satisfaction are presented and examined using both cross-section data on these cohorts and panel data from the NLSY and the German SOEP. The evidence is most consistent with workers regret about the returns to their investment in skills affecting their satisfaction. Job satisfaction is especially responsive to surprises in the returns to observable skills, less so to surprises in the returns to unobservables; and the effects of earnings shocks on job satisfaction dissipate over time.

download in pdf format
   (278 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (278 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Published: Hamermesh, Daniel S. "The Changing Distribution Of Job Satisfaction," Journal of Human Resources, 2001, v36(1,Winter), 1-30.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Card, Mas, Moretti, and Saez w16396 Inequality at Work: The Effect of Peer Salaries on Job Satisfaction
Freeman w0225 Job Satisfaction as an Economic Variable
Weiss w1597 The Effect of Job Complexity on Job Satisfaction: Evidence From Turnover and Absenteeism
Hamermesh w10361 Subjective Outcomes in Economics
Taylor w14631 The Financial Crisis and the Policy Responses: An Empirical Analysis of What Went Wrong
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us