The Effects of Emulation in the Reward System on Relative Deprivation, Selective Incentive, and Gender Inequality

Author Name YAMAGUCHI Kazuo (Visiting Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. December 2021 21-E-101
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Except for Raymond Boudon's study (Boudon 1981), which explains the cause of paradoxical increases in people's dissatisfaction in a society or in an organization where social opportunities are more abundant, and a study by Ishikawa (1981) on labor incentive in the workplace, social consequences of emulation, which is defined as competition under the presence of rewards for relative standing in position, have not been systematically analyzed in sociological theory based on rational choice models. This paper attempts to fill this niche by introducing a formal comparison of a reward system without emulation and two distinct reward systems with emulation, effort-based emulation and performance-based emulation, to clarify how the presence of emulation changes people's choices and how those choices generate certain macrosocial consequences. First, the study shows that effort-based emulation and performance-based emulation have a commonality in causing people to expend more effort at work.

At the same time, the paper also shows that effort-based emulation and performance-based emulation have very different effects on who receives stronger incentives to raise effort levels, and, as a result of this, the two kinds of emulation have contrasting effects on (a) the tendency for certain groups of people to experience relative deprivation due to their reduced benefits despite their increase in the amount of effort at work that the emulation has provoked, and (b) gender inequality in the presence of a gender gap in salary/wages or in the presence of a traditional household division of labor. As in Boudon's theory, all theoretical implications are derived through deductive reasoning based on the models of reward systems.