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Public Sector Employees: Risk Averse and Altruistic?

  • Margaretha Buurman
  • Josse Delfgaauw
  • Robert Dur
  • Seth Van den Bossche

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. Further, our results 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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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2012/wp-cesifo-2012-06/cesifo1_wp3851.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3851.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3851
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  9. Pfeifer, Christian, 2008. "Risk Aversion and Sorting into Public Sector Employment," IZA Discussion Papers 3503, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  11. Patrick Francois & Michael Vlassopoulos, 2008. "Pro-social Motivation and the Delivery of Social Services," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 54(1), pages 22-54, March.
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  13. Gregg, Paul & Grout, Paul A. & Ratcliffe, Anita & Smith, Sarah & Windmeijer, Frank, 2011. "How important is pro-social behaviour in the delivery of public services?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 758-766, August.
  14. Brekke, Kjell Arne & Nyborg, Karine, 2010. "Selfish bakers, caring nurses? A model of work motivation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 377-394, September.
  15. Dohmen Thomas & Falk Armin, 2010. "You get what you pay for: Incentives and Selection in the Education System," Research Memorandum 011, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  16. 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.
  17. Beresford, Alastair R. & Kübler, Dorothea & Preibusch, Sören, 2010. "Unwillingness to Pay for Privacy: A Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 5017, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  19. Simon Burgess & Marisa Ratto, 2003. "The Role of Incentives in the Public Sector: Issues and Evidence," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 03/071, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  20. Avinash Dixit, 2002. "# Incentives and Organizations in the Public Sector: An Interpretative Review," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(4), pages 696-727.
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