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Bureaucratic Rents and Life Satisfaction

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  • Simon Luechinger
  • Stephan Meier
  • Alois Stutzer

Abstract

The monopoly position of the public bureaucracy in providing public services allows government employees to acquire rents. Those rents can involve higher wages, monetary and non-monetary fringe benefits (e.g. pensions and staffing), and/or bribes. We propose a direct measure to capture the total of these rents: the difference in reported subjective well-being between bureaucrats and people working in the private sector. In a sample of 38 countries, we find large variations in the extent of rents in the public bureaucracy. The extent of rents is determined by differences in institutional constraints and correlates with perceptions of corruption. We find judicial independence to be of major relevance for a tamed bureaucracy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 269.

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Date of creation: Jan 2006
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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:269

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Keywords: public sector; rents; life satisfaction; corruption; judicial independence;

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  1. Djankov, Simeon & La Porta, Rafael & López-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei, 2001. "The Regulation of Entry," CEPR Discussion Papers 2953, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Hanssen, F Andrew, 2000. "Independent Courts and Administrative Agencies: An Empirical Analysis of the States," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 534-71, October.
  3. Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2005. "Competition and Incentives with Motivated Agents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 616-636, June.
  4. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
  6. DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 1999. "Partisan social happiness," ZEI Working Papers B 22-1999, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
  7. Rafael Di Tella & Alberto Ades, 1999. "Rents, Competition, and Corruption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 982-993, September.
  8. Fisman, Raymond & Gatti, Roberta, 2002. "Decentralization and corruption: evidence across countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 325-345, March.
  9. Gregory, Robert G. & Borland, Jeff, 1999. "Recent developments in public sector labor markets," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 53, pages 3573-3630 Elsevier.
  10. Acemoglu, D. & Verdier, T., 1997. "The Choice between Market Failures and Corruption," DELTA Working Papers 97-06, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  11. Brennan,Geoffrey & Buchanan,James M., 1980. "The Power to Tax," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521233293, April.
  12. Bruno S. Frey & Christine Benesch & Alois Stutzer, . "Does watching TV make us happy?," IEW - Working Papers 241, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  13. Ed Diener & Christie Napa-Scollon & Shigehiro Oishi & Vivian Dzokoto & Eunkook Suh, 2000. "Positivity and the Construction of Life Satisfaction Judgments: Global Happiness is not the Sum of its Parts," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 159-176, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Yamamura, Eiji, 2010. "The effects of information asymmetry and government size on happiness: A case study from Japan," MPRA Paper 27182, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Simon Luechinger & Stephan Meier & Alois Stutzer, 2008. "Why Does Unemployment Hurt the Employed?: Evidence from the Life Satisfaction Gap between the Public and Private Sectors," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 106, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  3. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00565205 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. 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).
  5. Duha T. Altindag & Junyue Xu, 2011. "The Impact of Institutions and Development on Happiness," Auburn Economics Working Paper Series auwp2011-08, Department of Economics, Auburn University.
  6. Charles B. Blankart, 2013. "Public Choice: A Survey," CESifo Working Paper Series 4102, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2010. "Happiness and public choice," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 144(3), pages 557-573, September.
  8. Natalia Danzer, 2013. "Job Satisfaction and Self-Selection into the Public or Private Sector: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper No. 169, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  9. Simon Luechinger & Stephan Meier & Alois Stutzer, 2010. "Why Does Unemployment Hurt the Employed?: Evidence from the Life Satisfaction Gap Between the Public and the Private Sector," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(4), pages 998-1045.
  10. Robin Zoutenbier, 2014. "The Impact of Matching Mission Preferences on Well-being at Work," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 14-036/I, Tinbergen Institute.
  11. Luminiţa Ionescu & George Lăzăroiu & Gheorghe Iosif, 2012. "Corruption and bureaucracy in public services," The AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC journal, Academy of Economic Studies - Bucharest, Romania, vol. 14(Special N), pages 665-679, November.
  12. Paul Frijters & David W. Johnston & Michael A. Shields, 2012. "The Optimality of Tax Transfers: What does Life Satisfaction Data Tell Us?," Discussion Papers Series 450, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.

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