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Serving the Public Interest in Several Ways: Theory and Empirics

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  • Robert Dur
  • Max van Lent

Abstract

We develop a model where people differ in their altruistic preferences and can serve the public interest in two ways: by making donations to charity and by taking a public service job and exerting effort on the job. Our theory predicts that people who are more altruistic are more likely to take a public service job and, for a given job, make higher donations to charity. Comparing equally altruistic workers, those with a regular job make higher donations to charity than those with a public service job by a simple substitution argument. We subsequently test these predictions using the German Socio-Economic Panel Study, which contains data on self-reported altruism, sector of employment, and donations to charity for more than 7,500 workers. We find support for most of our predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Dur & Max van Lent, 2017. "Serving the Public Interest in Several Ways: Theory and Empirics," CESifo Working Paper Series 6553, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6553
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Max van Lent, 2017. "Increasing the Well-Being of Others On-the-Job and Outside the Workplace," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 17-061/VII, Tinbergen Institute.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    altruism; charitable donations; public service motivation; public sector employment; self-selection;

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets
    • M50 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - General

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