Social Choice and Welfare

, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 659–678 | Cite as

Social preferences, accountability, and wage bargaining

  • Martin G. Kocher
  • Odile Poulsen
  • Daniel J. Zizzo
Original Paper


We experimentally test preferences for employment in a collective wage bargaining situation with heterogeneous workers. We vary the size of the union and introduce a treatment mechanism transforming the voting game into an individual allocation task. Our results show that highly productive workers do not take employment of low productive workers into account when making wage proposals, regardless of whether only union members determine the wage or all workers. The level of pro-social preferences is small in the voting game, but it increases if the game becomes an individual allocation task. We interpret this as an accountability effect.


Union Member Median Voter Union Membership Wage Level Employment Level 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank the editors, two anonymous reviewers, Marvin Deversi, Nadja Furtner, Jana Jarecki, Jia Liu, and Julius Pahlke for excellent research assistance, and Anders Poulsen for very helpful comments. The usual disclaimer applies.

Compliance with ethical standards


This work was supported by CBESS at the University of East Anglia and by the University of Munich.

Supplementary material

355_2017_1028_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (128 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 127 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin G. Kocher
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Odile Poulsen
    • 4
  • Daniel J. Zizzo
    • 5
  1. 1.University of MunichMunichGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Advanced StudiesViennaAustria
  3. 3.University of GothenburgGothenburgSweden
  4. 4.CBESS and School of EconomicsUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK
  5. 5.Business SchoolNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

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