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The Departure from Perfect Justice: Unjust Desserts and Job Satisfaction

Mon, August 13, 8:30 to 10:10am, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Floor: Level 4, 402


A major theme in distributive justice research examines the consequences of unjust desserts. We examine the entire spectrum of the justice evaluation of earnings––both underreward and overreward––and evaluate its relationship with job satisfaction, a key appraisal of overall job quality. We document new evidence on this focal relationship using recent national samples of Canadian and American workers. Using the 2017 Canadian Work, Stress, and Health Study, we introduce and evaluate a new index of the justice evaluation test its non-linear relationship with a job satisfaction index. We compare these results to those from the 2002-2014 U.S General Social Survey, utilizing ordinal regression techniques that uncover nuances in job satisfaction categories. Beyond these analytical advances, we make two substantive contributions by: (1) replicating the negative association between underreward and job satisfaction, and (2) unpacking the puzzle of overreward among Canadian and American workers.


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