What Makes Workers Happy? Anticipated Rewards and Job Satisfaction


  • Susan J. Linz,

    1. Department of Economics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
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    • Linz acknowledges financial support provided by Michigan State University (CERES, CASID/WID, CIBER), William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan, International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), and the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research (NCEEER) under the authority of a Title VIII grant from the U.S. Department of State. None of these funding organizations is responsible for the views expressed in this paper. We thank Linda Good and Patricia Huddleston for assistance with questionnaire development; Ramzis Akmitzyanov, Ana Jovancai, Inna Maltseva, Inna Petrova, Karina Simonyan, Nazira Tiuliundieva, and Guzel Tulegenova for assistance with data collection and data entry; and Terry-Ann Craigie and Sarah Vultaggio for assistance with data entry. Nicole Funari and Ilya Rahkovsky provided assistance with data management. Georgia Chao, Daniel Ilgen, and Neil Schmitt provided valuable comments on an earlier version of this paper.
  • Anastasia Semykina

    1. Department of Economics, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
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Using data collected from over 9400 employees in Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Serbia, across a wide variety of workplaces and sectors, we identify the extrinsic and intrinsic rewards that workers desire and expectations of receiving these rewards. We use ordered probit regression analysis to evaluate the association between anticipated rewards and job satisfaction, hypothesizing that reward desirability matters most for extrinsic rewards linked to numeric values. Data strongly support our hypothesis in the case of expected job security; limited support is found in the case of expected promotion. For non-numeric extrinsic and intrinsic rewards, a strong positive link between job satisfaction and the reward variables often is observed, even if the expected reward is not highly desired. While own earnings typically are positively linked to job satisfaction, peers' earnings may be positively (Kazakhstan, Armenia, Russia) or negatively (Krygyzstan, Serbia) linked to job satisfaction, but not always statistically significant.