Income Level and the Value of Non-Wage Employee Benefits

Source: Bart L. Weathington, Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, Volume 20, Number 4, December, 2008

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With continuing increases in the cost of medical insurance and other “fringe” benefits, payroll cost for monetary and non-monetary aspects of compensation is a significant factor for most organizations. While this is not a new phenomenon, relatively few studies in the empirical literature have examined the role of fringe benefits in employee compensation plans. Especially in under researched areas, it is imperative that researchers utilize ideas and theories from other disciplines to further our knowledge. Accordingly, this paper borrows the concept of elasticity from the economic literature to help explain and understand employee perceptions of two of the most common, costly, and important benefits–medical insurance and retirement plans. Specifically, the relationship between the current income of employees is analyzed in relation to employee perceptions of the value and importance of benefits. Results suggest that employees do not value medical insurance and retirement plans in the same manner. This result is interpreted in terms of the change in the marginal utility of the specific benefit.

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