IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Excessive public employment and rent-seeking traps

Listed author(s):
  • Jaimovich, Esteban
  • Rud, Juan Pablo

We propose a model where the size of the public sector and aggregate output are interrelated through the occupational choice of agents who differ in their skill level and degree of public-mindedness. When the public sector attracts bureaucrats with low degree of public service motivation, they will use their position to rent seek by employing an excessive number of unskilled workers. This leads to an equilibrium with relatively high unskilled wages, which lowers profits and deters entrepreneurship. Conversely, an equilibrium with a lean public sector and greater private economic activity arises when public service motivated agents populate the state bureaucracy. These agents exert high effort and employ a limited number of unskilled workers. Our model also shows that a bloated public sector with high wages may be supported by the unskilled agents.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030438781300134X
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 106 (2014)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 144-155

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:106:y:2014:i:c:p:144-155
DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2013.09.007
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/devec

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as
in new window


  1. Jaimovich, Esteban, 2011. "Sectoral differentiation, allocation of talent, and financial development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 47-60, September.
  2. Robert J. Barro, 2012. "Inflation and Economic Growth," CEMA Working Papers 568, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  3. Francois, Patrick, 2000. "'Public service motivation' as an argument for government provision," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 275-299, November.
  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. Aney, Madhav & Ghatak, Maitreesh & Morelli, Massimo, 2011. "Can Market Failure Cause Political Failure," CEPR Discussion Papers 8533, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," Post-Print hal-00173700, HAL.
  7. Antonio Merlo & Andrea Mattozzi, 2005. "Political Careers or Career Politicians?," 2005 Meeting Papers 740, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Hassler, John & Mora, José V Rodríguez & Storesletten, Kjetil & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2001. "The Survival of the Welfare State," CEPR Discussion Papers 2905, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Rocco Macchiavello, 2004. "Public Sector Motivation And Development Failures," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2004 1, Royal Economic Society.
  10. Ghatak, Maitreesh & Mueller, Hannes, 2011. "Thanks for nothing? Not-for-profits and motivated agents," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 94-105.
  11. Rauch, James E. & Evans, Peter B., 2000. "Bureaucratic structure and bureaucratic performance in less developed countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 49-71, January.
  12. Dan Bernhardt & Huw Lloyd-Ellis, 1993. "Enterprise, Inequality and Economic Development," Working Papers 893, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  13. Acemoglu, Daron & Verdier, Thierry, 1998. "Property Rights, Corruption and the Allocation of Talent: A General Equilibrium Approach," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1381-1403, September.
  14. Acemoglu, D. & Ticchi, D. & Vindigni, A., 2006. "Emergence and Persistence of Inefficient States," Papers 12-02-2006, Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy.
  15. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1995. "Institutions And Economic Performance: Cross-Country Tests Using Alternative Institutional Measures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 207-227, November.
  16. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1991. "The Allocation of Talent: Implications for Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 503-530.
  17. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-298, April.
  18. James A. Robinson & Thierry Verdier, 2013. "The Political Economy of Clientelism," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 115(2), pages 260-291, 04.
  19. Kevin Murdock, 2002. "Intrinsic Motivation and Optimal Incentive Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 33(4), pages 650-671, Winter.
  20. Francesco Caselli & Massimo Morelli, 2001. "Bad Politicians," NBER Working Papers 8532, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Maitreesh Ghatak & Massimo Morelli & Tomas Sjöström, 2001. "Occupational Choice and Dynamic Incentives," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(4), pages 781-810.
  22. Philippe Aghion & Patrick Bolton, 1997. "A Theory of Trickle-Down Growth and Development," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(2), pages 151-172.
  23. Canice Prendergast, 2007. "The Motivation and Bias of Bureaucrats," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 180-196, March.
  24. Thierry Verdier & Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "The Choice between Market Failures and Corruption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 194-211, March.
  25. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur, 2008. "Incentives and Workers' Motivation in the Public Sector," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(525), pages 171-191, 01.
  26. Josse Delfgaauw & Robert Dur, 2008. "Managerial Talent, Motivation, and Self-Selection into Public Management," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 08-097/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  27. Keefer, Philip & Knack, Stephen, 1997. "Why Don't Poor Countries Catch Up? A Cross-National Test of Institutional Explanation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(3), pages 590-602, July.
  28. Matthias Messner & Mattias Polborn, 2003. "Paying Politicians," Working Papers 246, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  29. Gelb, A & Knight, John B & Sabot, R H, 1991. "Public Sector Employment, Rent Seeking and Economic Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(408), pages 1186-1199, September.
  30. Durden, Garey, 1990. "The Effect of Rent-Seeking on Family Income Levels: Some Suggestive Empirical Evidence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 67(3), pages 285-291, December.
  31. Ghatak, Maitreesh & Morelli, Massimo & Sjostrom, Tomas, 2007. "Entrepreneurial talent, occupational choice, and trickle up policies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 137(1), pages 27-48, November.
  32. Van Rijckeghem, Caroline & Weder, Beatrice, 2001. "Bureaucratic corruption and the rate of temptation: do wages in the civil service affect corruption, and by how much?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 307-331, August.
  33. Philip Bond, 2008. "Persistent Court Corruption," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(531), pages 1333-1353, 08.
  34. Kikeri, S., 1998. "Privatization and Labour. What Happens to Workers When Governments Divest?," Papers 396, World Bank - Technical Papers.
  35. Paolo Mauro, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Economic Logic blog

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:106:y:2014:i:c:p:144-155. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.