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Benchmarking, Social Partnership and Higher Remuneration: Wage Settling Institutions and the Public-Private Sector Wage Gap in Ireland

  • Kelly, Elish

    (ESRI)

  • McGuinness, Seamus

    (ESRI)

  • O'Connell, Philip J.

    (ESRI)

This paper uses data from the 2003 and 2006 National Employment Surveys to analyse the public-private sector wage gap in Ireland. In particular, we investigate the impact of awards implemented under a number of wage setting institutions on the pay differential. These include the pay increases awarded by the Public Service Benchmarking Body in its first report and the increases given to higher-level posts in the public sector by the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector, Reports No. 40 and 41. The pay increases that were awarded under the Social Partnership process in Sustaining Progress and the Mid-term Review of Part Two of Sustaining Progress are also captured in the data used. The results indicate that the public sector pay premium increased dramatically from 7.7 to 23.5 per cent between 2003 and 2006. Furthermore, we found that by 2006 senior public service workers earned approximately 10 per cent more than their private sector counterparts, while those in lower-level grades earned between 24 and 32 per cent more. The public premium results derived in this paper relating to March 2006 predate the payment of the two most recent Social Partnership wage deals, along with the pay increases awarded in the second Benchmarking exercise and by the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in Reports No. 42 and 43. The results presented raise serious questions with respect to the justification for any further boosts to the pay levels of public sector workers.

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Paper provided by Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in its series Papers with number WP270.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:esr:wpaper:wp270
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  1. Ronald L. Oaxaca & Michael R. Ransom, 1999. "Identification in Detailed Wage Decompositions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 154-157, February.
  2. Boyle, Gerry & McElligott, Rory & O'Leary, Jim, 2004. "Public-Private Wage Differentials in Ireland, 1994-2001," Quarterly Economic Commentary: Special Articles, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), vol. 2004(2-Summer), pages 1-23.
  3. Claudio Lucifora & Dominique Meurs, 2004. "The Public Sector Pay Gap in France, Great Britain and Italy," CHILD Working Papers wp04_04, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
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  7. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  8. Richard Disney & Amanda Gosling, 1998. "Does it pay to work in the public sector?," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 19(4), pages 347-374, November.
  9. Frances Ruane & Xiaoheng Zhang, 2007. "Location Choices of the Pharmaceutical Industry in Europe after 1992," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp220, IIIS.
  10. Gerry Boyle & Rory McElligott & Jim O'Leary, 2004. "Public-Private Wage Differentials in Ireland, 1994-2001," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n1421004, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  11. O'Connell, Philip J. & Russell, Helen, 2006. "Does it Pay to Go Public? Public/Private Wage Differences among Recent Graduates in Ireland," Quarterly Economic Commentary: Special Articles, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), vol. 2006(3-Autumn), pages 64-79.
  12. John FitzGerald, 1999. "Understanding Ireland's Economic Success," Papers WP111, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  13. Mueller, Richard E., 1998. "Public-private sector wage differentials in Canada: evidence from quantile regressions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 229-235, August.
  14. 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.
  15. McGuinness, Seamus & Kelly, Elish & O'Connell, Philip J., 2008. "The Impact of Wage Bargaining Regime on Firm-Level Competitiveness and Wage Inequality: The Case of Ireland," Papers WP266, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
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