Negative reciprocity and retrenched pension rights

We document the importance of negatively reciprocal inclinations in labor relationships by showing that a retrenchment of pension rights, which is perceived as unfair, causes a larger reduction in job motivation the stronger workers’ negatively reciprocal inclinations are. We exploit unique matched survey and administrative data on male employees in the public sector in the Netherlands and compare thejob motivation of employees born in 1950, who faced a substantial retrenchment of their pension rights resulting from a pension reform in 2006, to that of slightly older employees who remain entitled to more generous pension benefits. Job motivation is significantly lower among negatively reciprocal employees who were affected by the reform. The adverse effect on job motivation is greater for negative reciprocal employees born very shortly after the cut-off date of January 1, 1950, as well as for those with many untreated colleagues who perceive the policy change as being more unfair. We also find that the treatment effect is stronger among workers who aremore likely to hold their employer accountable for the drop in their pension rights, that is, those who work for the national government which initiated the pension reform.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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