You're Paid What You're Worth and Other Myths of the Modern Economy
Your pay depends on your productivity and occupation. If you earn roughly the same as others in your job, with the precise level determined by your performance, then you’re paid market value. And who can question something as objective and impersonal as the market? That, at least, is how many of us tend to think. But we need to think again.
Job performance and occupational characteristics do play a role in determining pay, but judgments of productivity and value are also highly subjective. What makes a lawyer more valuable than a teacher? How do you measure the output of a police officer, a professor, or a reporter? Why, in the past few decades, did CEOs suddenly become hundreds of times more valuable than their employees? The answers lie not in objective criteria but in battles over interests and ideals. In this contest four dynamics are paramount: power, inertia, mimicry, and demands for equity. Power struggles legitimize pay for particular jobs, and organizational inertia makes that pay seem natural. Mimicry encourages employers to do what peers are doing. And workers are on the lookout for practices that seem unfair. You're Paid What You're Worth shows us how these dynamics play out in real-world settings, drawing from a range of disciplines, original survey data, along with compelling stories from contemporary labor markets. At a time when essential workers are barely making ends meet and inequality continues to rise, You’re Paid What You’re Worth is a crucial resource for understanding that most basic of social questions: Who gets what and why? Order here More information available here Japanese version available here
"A flat-out revelation of a book by one of the nation’s top scholars of the labor market, You’re Paid What You’re Worth is required reading for anyone who cares about the future of work in America. With concise prose informed by history and cutting-edge research, Rosenfeld dispels one myth after another about how the modern economy works and champions thoughtful solutions for how American prosperity can once more lead to broad social uplift."--Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
"This very smart book explores an issue that is rarely discussed, but extremely important: why are you paid what you're paid, and why are so many people (other than CEOs) paid less than they deserve? In this lucid, original work, Jake Rosenfeld argues that employers have too much power in setting pay levels while workers have far too little, and he examines what can be done to right the balance to create fairer pay levels for everyone."--Steven Greenhouse, author of Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor.
"The growth in earnings inequality requires us to understand what determines pay in the economy. Jake Rosenfeld’s book provides nuanced and bold insight into the question of ‘who gets what and why?’ He challenges widely held assumptions and approaches in this area by probing the impact of fairness norms, organizational inertia and mimicry, and most importantly power in determining pay. In so doing, he provides novel and provocative perspectives on policies to address this pressing problem."--David Weil, Dean, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
"Jake Rosenfeld pulls back the curtain on the multifaceted cultural, institutional, and market forces at play in wage-setting. This timely book illuminates the power dynamics and often arbitrary forces that have contributed to the egregious inequality in the U.S. labor market—and then lays out a clear blueprint for progressive change."--Thea Lee, President of the Economic Policy Institute
"You’re Paid What You’re Worth is a lively and rigorous study that will change debates over labor markets. Rosenfeld’s original research serves as a very important rejoinder to old ideas in economics and to conventional wisdom in the mass public."--Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Columbia University
"Rosenfeld’s book provides a rich sociological theory of the labor market, showing why and how wages are largely set by norms, organizational practices, and institutions."--Suresh Naidu, Columbia University
Reviews: Abatemarco, Antonio. 2021. Review of You're Paid What You're Worth and Other Myths of the Modern Economy. Review of Economics, April 21.
Adler, Laura. 2022. Review of You're Paid What You're Worth and Other Myths of the Modern Economy, SASE blog, June 3.