Immoral Labor Markets

Roberto Weber (University of Zurich)

May 4, 2018, 11:30–12:30


Room MF 323


There exists a widespread perception that heterogeneity in the moral characteristics of jobs and workers interact to produce differential selection by immoral individuals into jobs that require performing immoral acts. Moreover, the aversion among many individuals to performing such acts may contribute to immorality wage premiums, a form of compensating wage differential. However, the evidence of such relationships is scarce and largely limited to correlational studies of perceived sector immorality and wages. We use surveys, laboratory experiments and labor-market data to investigate the interaction between individuals’ concerns for morality and outcomes in real and laboratory labor markets. We obtain two measures of an individual’s aversion to performing immoral acts, one from a behavioral laboratory task and the other from a series of survey items; the two measures correlate significantly with each other. These two measures also correlate with laboratory labor market outcomes and expected outcomes in real labor markets, but only for “immoral” work. In the laboratory, immoral types are more likely to be employed and obtain higher wages when a job requires performing immoral acts. In our survey data, immoral types express a greater willingness to work in firms and industries that a large independent sample rates as immoral; we also document that wages are higher in such immoral industries.

Roberto Weber is a Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Zürich. His research and teaching fall primarily within the areas of behavioral and experimental economics, decision making, and the study of organizations and institutions.
His personal webpage


Roberto Weber (University of Zurich), Immoral Labor Markets, IAST General Seminar, Toulouse: IAST, May 4, 2018, 11:30–12:30, room MF 323.