Can Pay, Will Pay

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0120100916

Very high pay and very low pay have always been controversial areas - never more so now in the wake of the credit crunch.

In this first part of 'Can Pay, Will Pay', Danny Finkelstein of The Times investigates why pay at the top has got so high.

Is it all about bankers' bonuses? Do bonuses even work? And is the market working properly, or do social norms just mean that lots of highly-paid people can't say 'no' to lots of other highly-paid people?

And he hears from campaigners for the very lowest-paid workers who want to use similar social norms to boost pay at the bottom.

How successfully are they persuading local authorities, individual businesses, and central government, of their case?

Producer: Giles Edwards.

Danny Finkelstein explores high pay and low pay.

02 LAST20100917

The setting of pay levels - one of the most important, yet often sensitive and frequently puzzling of processes.

It's a topic everyone is interested in.

It determines the living standards of the recipients.

Is it simply based on the application of market forces, the qualifications and expertise of the staff, and clear rules and procedures?

Or how much is it down to arbitrary tradition and social norms, assumptions and discrimination, the willingness of some to treat a job as a vocation rather than primarily a source of income, and the declining power of trade unions once so concerned about relativities and differentials.

In this second part of "Can Pay, Will Pay", Danny Finkelstein of The Times shifts his focus away from those at the two extremes of the pay distribution and towards the majority in the middle.

He explores what different jobs pay and why.

And why sometimes people doing very similar jobs get widely varying amounts.

He asks why train drivers earn almost twice as much as bus drivers? Why some airline cabin crew earn much more than others? How does a company go about deciding how much to pay staff doing different jobs? How does a medical charity go about trying to determine the relative pay of its shopworkers and its scientists?

Would we be happier if we knew the precise amounts others in our workplace were earning, and would that knowledge narrow the differential between men and women?

And why do tall people and beautiful people tend to earn more?

Interviewees include staff, managers, pay experts, trade unionists, and lots of others from all walks of life.

Producer Jane Ashley.

Daniel Finkelstein looks at the factors which affect most peoples' pay.