October 15, 2023
A large body of research links performance pay to poorer worker health. The mechanism generating this link remains in doubt. We examine a common suspect, that performance pay causes employees to work longer hours in pursuit of higher pay. Using UK data, we demonstrate that performance pay is associated with more work hours and a higher probability of working long hours. Yet approximately two thirds of these differences reflect worker sorting rather than behavioral change. The remaining effects are small except those for labourers. Indeed, controlling for hours of work does not diminish the link between worse self-reported health and performance pay.
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