Performance Pay and Stress: An Experimental Study

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paper

49 Downloads (Pure)


Recent economics literature suggests a link between performance pay and ill health, potentially through the adverse effects of performance pay on stress. This project examines this issue using an experimental design that purges the effects of self-selection into performance pay and identifies the direction of causation from performance pay to stress. Results find that those who are paid for their performance experience higher levels of stress, both in terms of perceived stress and objectively measured cortisol levels, than those who are paid by a minimum performance contract.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Aberdeen: Business School
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - May 2017

Publication series

NameDiscussion Paper in Economics
PublisherUniversity of Aberdeen
ISSN (Electronic)0143-4543

Bibliographical note

The financial support for this study by the Scottish Economic Society is gratefully acknowledged and appreciated. We are grateful for helpful comments by participants at the 2016 Scottish Economic Society Conference and seminar participants at the University of Aberdeen and the Université Panthéon-Assas as well as Daniel Powell. Help with z-tree programming from Maria Bigoni is also greatly appreciated. All errors remain with the authors.


  • performance-related pay
  • real-effort experiment
  • stress
  • cortisol


Dive into the research topics of 'Performance Pay and Stress: An Experimental Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this