Justice of Wages in Germany and Abroad? An Empirical Investigation

  • Stefan Liebig
  • Jürgen Schupp
  • Gert G. Wagner


This paper deals with empirical studies on peoples’ opinions on justice of wages. Its material focuses on Germany, but it also takes other Western countries into account. There were some variations, but in general, for all societies researched, a majority estimated the distribution of wages to be unjust at the extremes: in their eyes, unskilled workers are paid too little and, even more clearly, executives are paid too much. The average income of the middle class employee is considered to be just by a (weak) majority, with regional exceptions. Interestingly, though perhaps not amazingly, almost all persons asked estimated their own income to be too low (at most, in some cases, just adequate), regardless of their position (executive, unskilled worker or other). With regard to public debate this data shows that Social Justice cannot simply be reduced to the question of equality of opportunity.


Unskilled Worker Actual Earning Corporate Governance Code Perfect Competition German Corporate Governance 
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.


  1. Becker, Irene, and Richard Hauser. 2004. Soziale Gerechtigkeit – eine Standortbestimmung: Zieldimensionen und empirische Befunde. Berlin: Edition Sigma.Google Scholar
  2. De Quervain, Dominique J.-F., et al. 2004. The neural basis of altruistic punishment. Science 305(5688): 1254–1258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Fehr, Ernst. 2002. Why social preferences matter—The impact of non-selfish motives on competition, cooperation and incentives. The Economic Journal 112: C1–C33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fehr, Ernst, and Urs Fischbacher. 2003. The nature of human altruism. Nature 425: 785–791.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fehr, Ernst, and Klaus M. Schmidt. 2003. Theories of fairness and reciprocity—Evidence and economic applications. In Advances in economics and econometrics, eighth world congress of the econometric society, vol. 1, ed. Matthias Dewatripont, Lars Hansen, and Stephen Turnovsky, 208–257. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Fehr, Ernst, et al. 2002. A nation-wide laboratory—Examining trust and trustworthiness by integrating behavioral experiments into representative surveys. Schmollers Jahrbuch 122: 519–542.Google Scholar
  7. Görzig, Bernd, Martin Gornig, and Axel Werwatz. 2004. East Germany: A structural low wage region? DIW Economic Bulletin 41(12): 417–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Härtel, Hans-Hagen. 2004. Fundamentaler Wandel der Maßstäbe. Wirtschaftsdienst 84(6): 347–350.Google Scholar
  9. Jasso, Guillermine. 1978. On the justice of earnings, a new specification of the justice evaluation function. The American Journal of Sociology 83: 1398–1419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kluegel, James R., David S. Mason, and Bernd Wegener (eds.). 1995. Social justice and political change. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  11. Kramer, Roderick M., and Tom R. Tyler (eds.). 1996. Trust in organizations: Frontiers of theory and research. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  12. Lengfeld, Holger, Alfredo Märker, and Stefan Liebig. 2002. Politisches Engagement, Protest und die Bedeutung sozialer Ungerechtigkeit. In Interdisziplinäre Soziale Gerechtigkeitsforschung, ed. Stefan Liebig and Holger Lengfeld, 243–264. Frankfurt a.M.: Campus.Google Scholar
  13. Lind, E.Allan, and Tom R. Tyler. 1988. The social psychology of procedural justice. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Schupp, Jürgen, and Gert G. Wagner. 2002. Maintenance of and innovation in long-term panel studies, the case of the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP). Allgemeines Statistisches Archiv 86: 168–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Schupp, Jürgen, and Gert G. Wagner. 2004. Vertrauen in Deutschland: Grosses Misstrauen gegenüber Institutionen. Wochenbericht des DIW Berlin no. 21.Google Scholar
  16. Siegrist, Johannes. 2001. Distributive Gerechtigkeit und Gesundheit, Eine medizinsoziologische Perspektive. Ethik in der Medizin 13: 33–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Zypries, Brigitte. 2004. Transparenz bei der Managervergütung—ist die Akzeptanz des Corporate-Governance-Kodex in Gefahr? Ifo-Schnelldienst 57(19): 3–9.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Liebig
    • 1
  • Jürgen Schupp
    • 2
  • Gert G. Wagner
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of SociologyBielefeld UniversityBielefeldGermany
  2. 2.SOEP, DIW BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Technische Universität Berlin/Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (DIW)BerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations