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Who works in the public sector? Evidence from the World Values Survey

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  • Sarah Smith
  • Edd Cowley

Abstract

Earlier single-country studies found a higher level of intrinsic motivation among public sector workers, compared to the private sector. Using data from the World Values Survey, covering 51 countries, we find a tendency for public sector workers to be more intrinsically motivated, but this is not a universal relationship: we also show that the level of government corruption (appropriately instrumented) explains some of the variation across countries. Consistent with earlier studies that find that selection accounts for differential motivation across sectors, we show that intrinsically-motivated workers are less likely to work in the public sector when corruption is higher.

Suggested Citation

  • Sarah Smith & Edd Cowley, 2011. "Who works in the public sector? Evidence from the World Values Survey," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 11/268, The Centre for Market and Public Organisation, University of Bristol, UK.
  • Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:11/268
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    File URL: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cmpo/publications/papers/2011/wp268.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Aidt, Toke & Dutta, Jayasri & Sena, Vania, 2008. "Governance regimes, corruption and growth: Theory and evidence," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 195-220, June.
    2. Delfgaauw, Josse & Dur, Robert, 2007. "Signaling and screening of workers' motivation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 605-624, April.
    3. Cole, Matthew A., 2007. "Corruption, income and the environment: An empirical analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3-4), pages 637-647, May.
    4. 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.
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    1. Are government workers more motivated?
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-01-04 21:51:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Banuri, Sheheryar & Keefer, Philip, 2016. "Pro-social motivation, effort and the call to public service," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 139-164.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Intrinsic motivation; public sector; corruption;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets

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