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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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References

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  1. Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio LopezdeSilanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2000. "The Regulation of Entry," NBER Working Papers 7892, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Frey, Bruno S. & Benesch, Christine & Stutzer, Alois, 2007. "Does watching TV make us happy?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 283-313, June.
  4. Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2003. "Competition and incentives with motivated agents," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2202, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  5. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  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. 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.
  8. Rafael Di Tella & Alberto Ades, 1999. "Rents, Competition, and Corruption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 982-993, September.
  9. Acemoglu, D. & Verdier, T., 1997. "The Choice between Market Failures and Corruption," DELTA Working Papers 97-06, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  10. 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.
  11. Brennan,Geoffrey & Buchanan,James M., 2006. "The Power to Tax," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521027922.
  12. Fisman, Raymond & Gatti, Roberta, 2002. "Decentralization and corruption: evidence across countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 325-345, March.
  13. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Eiji Yamamura, 2012. "The Effects of Information Asymmetry and Government Size on Happiness: A Case Study from Japan," The IUP Journal of Governance and Public Policy, IUP Publications, vol. 0(1), pages 7-20, March.
  2. Danzer, Natalia, 2013. "Job Satisfaction and Self-Selection into the Public or Private Sector: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 7644, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2010. "Happiness and public choice," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 144(3), pages 557-573, September.
  4. Robin Zoutenbier, 2014. "The Impact of Matching Mission Preferences on Well-being at Work," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 14-036/I, Tinbergen Institute.
  5. Duha T. Altindag & Junyue Xu, . "The Impact of Institutions and Development on Happiness," Departmental Working Papers 2009-17, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
  6. 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.
  7. Luechinger, Simon & Meier, Stephan & Stutzer, Alois, 2008. "Why Does Unemployment Hurt the Employed? Evidence from the Life Satisfaction Gap between the Public and the Private Sector," IZA Discussion Papers 3385, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Charles B. Blankart, 2013. "Public Choice: A Survey," CESifo Working Paper Series 4102, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. 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.
  10. 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).
  11. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00565205 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. 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).

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