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On Selection into Public Civil Service

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  • Tobias Boehm

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Muenster)

  • Nadine Riedel

    ()
    (Centre for Business Taxation, University of Oxford)

Abstract

This paper investigates whether the institution of life time tenure for public sector employees affects the selection of workers into private and public sector occupation. Precisely, we argue that more generous employment protection for public sector employees may induce risk averse individuals to select into civil service employment even if they have a low intrinsic motivation and talent for this type of occupation. To empirically test for this effect, we exploit the natural experiment of the German reunification in 1990. While occupational choices in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) before 1990 may be affected by the described security motive, workers in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) enjoyed an employment guarantee irrespective of their occupation. Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel, we employ a difference-in-difference approach that takes absenteeism as a proxy for intrinsic worker motivation and productivity. The results suggest a significant selection effect: public sector employees who made their occupational choice in the FRG report more days of absence than the control group of civil servants who chose their occupation in the former GDR. This effect turns out to be robust against controlling for potential socio-economic and cultural differences between the groups.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation in its series Working Papers with number 1109.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:btx:wpaper:1109

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Keywords: public sector; employment protection; occupational choice;

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  1. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur, 2003. "Signaling and Screening of Workers' motivation," CESifo Working Paper Series 1099, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Besley, Timothy J. & Ghatak, Maitreesh, 2004. "Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents," CEPR Discussion Papers 4641, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Ichino, Andrea & Riphahn, Regina, 2003. "The Effect of Employment Protection on Worker Effort: A Comparison of Absenteeism During and After Probation," CEPR Discussion Papers 3847, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Nicolas R. Ziebarth & Martin Karlsson, 2009. "A Natural Experiment on Sick Pay Cuts, Sickness Absence, and Labor Costs," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 244, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  5. Riphahn, Regina T., 2004. "Employment protection and effort among German employees," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 85(3), pages 353-357, December.
  6. Regina T. Riphahn & Anja Thalmaier, 2001. "Behavioral Effects of Probation Periods: An Analysis of Worker Absenteeism," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, vol. 221(2), pages 179-201.
  7. Simon Burgess & Marisa Ratto, 2003. "The Role of Incentives in the Public Sector: Issues and Evidence," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(2), pages 285-300, Summer.
  8. Francois, Patrick, 2000. "'Public service motivation' as an argument for government provision," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 275-299, November.
  9. Sinan Aral & Erik Brynjolfsson & Marshall Van Alstyne, 2007. "Information, Technology and Information Worker Productivity: Task Level Evidence," NBER Working Papers 13172, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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