Gregariousness is an important aspect of human life with significant implications for labour market outcomes. However, there is still a research gap on the relationship between gregariousness, interactive jobs and wages. This paper therefore investigates the importance of preferences towards gregariousness for social interaction a job can be attributed to and also tries to shed a first light on the extent of equalizing wage differences in Germany. The empirical findings with samples from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) suggest that the supply of gregarious workers is higher than the amount of gregarious jobs offered in the labour market. There are two potential reasons for this finding. Either the firms do not supply more interactive jobs, or workers are not prepared to work in the jobs supplied, for instance, because of lower wages. The findings indicate that personality and preferences matter for sorting into jobs with social interaction at the working place. The personality factors extraversion and agreeableness significantly enhance the probability to work in an interactive job. The supplement analysis with the SOEP youth questionnaires confirm that the influence of these personality factors is already effective in adolescence. It is further shown that females more often work in interactive jobs compared to males. There is evidence that working in an interactive job is associated with a compensating negative wage differential in the samples of women of 7 percent. There is no evidence for significant wage differences in the sample of males. The findings have consequences for labour market policies. Gregariousness is widespread among workers and a significant determinant of labour supply. Compensating wage differentials, however, are found only in the sample of females. If wage differentials are neutralized in interactive jobs, labour demand may decline. Given a reasonable value for the wage elasticity of 0.3 a wage increase by seven percent may reduce female employment in interactive jobs by 2.1 percent. These policy conclusions are preliminary in nature, mainly because the measured wage differential may result, alt least to some extent, also from non market clearing. Although the study addresses a relevant and widespread dimension of human behaviour, gregariousness, and its consequences for sorting as well as its association with wages, more research is needed to understand especially the causes behind women’s tastes for social interaction in the job, given the wage gap. Either these preferences are the result of socialisation in a world where adolescent women are taught to be responsible for interaction and social relationship, or it may result from comparative advantages in the division of labour during adulthood, or a combination of both. The first interpretation receives some support from the youth data, since measured personality scores differ already between girls and boys. Girls score higher in extraversion and agreeableness.

Pfeiffer, Friedhelm and Nico Johannes Schulz (2011), Gregariousness, Interactive Jobs and Wages, ZEW Discussion Paper No. 11-001, Mannheim. Download


Pfeiffer, Friedhelm
Schulz, Nico Johannes


Gregariousness, social interactions, labour markets, sorting, wage differentials