Fair pay is good for your heart

It isn’t how much you’re paid. It’s how fair you think your pay is that matters. That might depend on how much other people are paid, or how much effort you have put in, or how well your company is doing.

If you’re an employer, you might think about paying people a wage that is more likely to be perceived as “fair” – particularly if  supervising your employees is difficult, and happy workers are more likely to be productive.

But could it also be good for their health? Researchers from the University of Bonn and Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf conducted an experiment to look at the health of workers who thought that their pay was unfair. Participants in an experiment were split into two groups: the employees and the employers. Employers got to do what they wanted – read a book, flick through a newspaper, do nothing at all. Employees were given the task of counting the number of ‘0’s to appear on a page (where do experimenters get these torturous ideas from?). Based on the employees’ work, employers were given an amount of money to split between themselves and the employees.

The experimenter asked employees what they thought a fair wage would  be. The disappointed employees, who received less than what they thought would be a fair wage, exhibited lower heart rate variability which reflects increased stress, and is a long run predictor of coronary heart disease.

So next time you don’t get the pay deal you’re after, maybe you should take it up with the Health & Safety department.

The full paper is here: http://ftp.iza.org/dp5720.pdf

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