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The Public Pay Gap in Britain: Small Differences That (Don't?) Matter

Author

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  • Fabien Postel-Vinay

    (PJSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris, CREST - Centre de Recherche en Économie et Statistique - ENSAI - Ecole Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Analyse de l'Information [Bruz] - X - École polytechnique - ENSAE ParisTech - École Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Administration Économique - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CEPR - Center for Economic Policy Research - CEPR, IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor - IZA)

  • Hélène Turon

    (IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor - IZA, Departement of Economics - University of Bristol - University of Bristol [Bristol])

Abstract

The existing literature on inequality between private and public sectors focuses on cross-section differences in earnings levels. A more general way of looking at inequality between sectors is to recognize that forward-looking agents will care about income and job mobility too. We show that these are substantially different between the two sectors. Using data from the BHPS, we estimate a model of income and employment dynamics over seven years. We allow for unobserved heterogeneity in the propensity to be unemployed or employed in either job sector and in terms of the income process. We then combine the results into lifetime values of jobs in either sector and carry out a cross-section comparative analysis of these values. We have four main findings. First focusing on cross-sector differences in terms of the income process only, we detect a positive average public premium both in income flows and in the present discounted sum of future income flows. Second, we argue that income inequality is lower but more persistent in the public sector, as most of the observed relative cross-sectional income compression in the public sector is due to a lower variance of the transitory component of income. Third, when taking job mobility into account, the lifetime public premium is essentially zero for workers that we categorize as "high-employability" individuals, suggesting that the UK labor market is sufficiently mobile to ensure a rapid allocation of workers into their "natural" sector. Fourth, we find some evidence of job queuing for public sector jobs among "low-employability" workers.

Suggested Citation

  • Fabien Postel-Vinay & Hélène Turon, 2005. "The Public Pay Gap in Britain: Small Differences That (Don't?) Matter," PSE Working Papers halshs-00590765, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-00590765
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00590765
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andrew Clark & Fabien Postel-Vinay, 2009. "Job security and job protection," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(2), pages 207-239, April.
    2. Cappellari, Lorenzo, 2002. "Earnings dynamics and uncertainty in Italy: how do they differ between the private and public sectors?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 477-496, September.
    3. Peter Arcidiacono & John Bailey Jones, 2003. "Finite Mixture Distributions, Sequential Likelihood and the EM Algorithm," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(3), pages 933-946, May.
    4. Mark B. Stewart, 2007. "The interrelated dynamics of unemployment and low-wage employment," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(3), pages 511-531.
    5. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 2002. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 47-89, January.
    6. 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.
    7. Audra J. Bowlus & Jean-Marc Robin, 2004. "Twenty Years of Rising Inequality in U.S. Lifetime Labour Income Values," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(3), pages 709-742.
    8. Bender, Keith A, 1998. " The Central Government-Private Sector Wage Differential," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(2), pages 177-220, April.
    9. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1998. "Consumption Inequality and Income Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 603-640.
    10. Tullio Jappelli & Luigi Pistaferri, 2006. "Intertemporal Choice and Consumption Mobility," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(1), pages 75-115, March.
    11. 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.
    12. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1997. "The Career Decisions of Young Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 473-522, June.
    13. George J. Borjas, 2002. "The Wage Structure and the Sorting of Workers into the Public Sector," NBER Working Papers 9313, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Disney, Richard F & Gosling, Amanda, 2003. "A New Method for Estimating Public Sector Pay Premia: Evidence from Britain in the 1990's," CEPR Discussion Papers 3787, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Doris, Aedin & O'Neill, Donal & Sweetman, Olive, 2008. "Does Growth Affect the Nature of Inequality? Ireland 1994–2001," IZA Discussion Papers 3701, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Bargain, Olivier & Melly, Blaise, 2008. "Public Sector Pay Gap in France: New Evidence Using Panel Data," IZA Discussion Papers 3427, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Ghazala Azmat & Alan Manning & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Privatization, Entry Regulation and the Decline of Labor's Share of GDP: A Cross-Country Analysis of the Network Industries," CEP Discussion Papers dp0806, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    4. Gian Luigi Albano & Clare Leaver, 2005. "Transparency, Recuitment and Retention in the Public Sector," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 05/132, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    5. David Bell & Robert F. Elliott & Ada Ma & Anthony Scott & Elizabeth Roberts, 2007. "The Pattern And Evolution Of Geographical Wage Differentials In The Public And Private Sectors In Great Britain," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 75(4), pages 386-421, July.
    6. Chatterji, Monojit & Mumford, Karen A. & Smith, Peter N., 2007. "The Public-Private Sector Gender Wage Differential: Evidence from Matched Employee-Workplace Data," IZA Discussion Papers 3158, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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