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Public Sector Employees: Risk Averse and Altruistic?

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  • Margaretha Buurman
  • Josse Delfgaauw
  • Robert Dur
  • Seth Van den Bossche

Abstract

We assess whether public sector employees have a stronger inclination to serve others and are more risk averse than employees in the private sector. A unique feature of our study is that we use revealed rather than stated preferences data. Respondents of a large-scale survey were offered a substantial reward and could choose between a widely redeemable gift certificate, a lottery ticket, or making a donation to a charity. Our analysis shows that public sector employees are significantly less likely to choose the risky option (lottery) and, at the start of their career, significantly more likely to choose the pro-social option (charity). However, when tenure increases, this difference in pro-social inclinations disappears and, later on, even reverses. Further, our results suggest that quite a few public sector employees do not contribute to charity because they feel that they already contribute enough to society at work for too little pay.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2012/wp-cesifo-2012-06/cesifo1_wp3851.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3851.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3851

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Keywords: public service motivation; risk aversion; revealed preferences data;

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References

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  1. Avinash Dixit, 2002. "# Incentives and Organizations in the Public Sector: An Interpretative Review," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(4), pages 696-727.
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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Are civil servants different?
    by Kevin Denny in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2009-10-12 09:19:00
  2. Public sector employees: Risk averse and (diminishingly) altruistic . . .
    by Nicholas Gruen in Club Troppo on 2009-10-12 09:57:15
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Cited by:
  1. Robert Dur & Robin Zoutenbier, 2011. "Working for a Good Cause," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-168/1, Tinbergen Institute, revised 23 Apr 2013.
  2. Robert Dur & Robin Zoutenbier, 2013. "Intrinsic Motivations of Public Sector Employees: Evidence for Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 623, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  3. Robert Dur & Robin Zoutenbier, 2012. "Intrinsic Motivations of Public Sector Employees: Evidence for Germany," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 12-135/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
  4. Amelie F. Constant & Annabelle Krause & Ulf Rinne & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2011. "Economic preferences and attitudes of the unemployed: Are natives and second generation migrants alike?," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 32(7), pages 825-851, November.
  5. Banuri, Sheheryar & Keefer, Philip, 2013. "Intrinsic motivation, effort and the call to public service," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6729, The World Bank.
  6. Robert Dur & Robin Zoutenbier, 2011. "Working for a Good Cause," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-168/1, Tinbergen Institute, revised 23 Apr 2013.
  7. Andersson, Ola & Huysentruyt, Marieke & Miettinen, Topi & Stephan, Ute, 2014. "Person-Organization Fit and Incentives: A Causal Test," Working Paper Series 1010, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.

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