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Public Sector Employees: Risk Averse and Altruistic?

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Author Info

  • Margaretha Buurman

    (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

  • Robert Dur

    (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

  • Seth Van den Bossche

    (TNO Work and Employment)

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. Our results further 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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tinbergen Institute in its series Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers with number 09-067/1.

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Date of creation: 31 Jul 2009
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:uvatin:20090067

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Web page: http://www.tinbergen.nl

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

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References

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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. Banuri, Sheheryar & Keefer, Philip, 2013. "Intrinsic motivation, effort and the call to public service," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6729, The World Bank.
  2. Fehrler, Sebastian & Kosfeld, Michael, 2014. "Pro-social missions and worker motivation: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 99-110.
  3. Robert Dur & Robin Zoutenbier, 2013. "Working for a Good Cause," CESifo Working Paper Series 4227, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Dur, Robert & Zoutenbier, Robin, 2014. "Intrinsic Motivations of Public Sector Employees: Evidence for Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 8239, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Köllő, János, 2013. "A közszféra bérszintje és a magánszektorból átlépők szelekciója 1997-2008 között
    [Public-sector pay and flows from the private to the public sector]
    ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(5), pages 523-554.
  6. Constant, Amelie & Krause, Annabelle & Rinne, Ulf & Zimmermann, Klaus F, 2011. "Economic Preferences and Attitudes of the Unemployed: Are Natives and Second Generation Migrants Alike?," CEPR Discussion Papers 8207, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. 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).
  8. Robert Dur & Robin Zoutenbier, 2012. "Intrinsic Motivations of Public Sector Employees: Evidence for Germany," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 12-135/VII, Tinbergen Institute, revised 02 Jun 2014.
  9. Robert Dur & Robin Zoutenbier, 2011. "Working for a Good Cause," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-168/1, Tinbergen Institute, revised 23 Apr 2013.
  10. Tonin, Mirco & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2014. "Are Public Sector Workers Different? Cross-European Evidence from Elderly Workers and Retirees," IZA Discussion Papers 8238, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. 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.
  12. Molnár, György & Kapitány, Zsuzsa, 2013. "Munkahely a közszférában. Biztonság és hivatás, a szubjektív szempontok szerepe
    [Public sector employment. Security and social mission- the role of subjective aspects]
    ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(7), pages 781-813.

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