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Changing public sector wage differentials in the UK

Author

Listed:
  • Richard Disney

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Sussex)

  • Amanda Gosling

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Kent)

Abstract

The paper estimates public sector wage differentials and their changes over time for men and women in the United Kingdom using panel data from the New Earnings Survey/Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings for the period 1975 to 2006. It presents estimates that are robust to unobserved workforce characteristics and that also show the impact of policy changes and cyclical factors, by allowing the average measured public sector 'premium' or 'penalty' to be time-varying. The methodology also allows us to examine the extent to which discrepancies in public and private sector pay induce changing relative qualities of the sectoral workforces. Results are given for men and women comparing mean wages in the public and private sectors as a whole. There is, on average, a very small positive premium over the whole period for public sector women and a very small penalty for men; however the variability of the differential is much more striking than the average difference. The method can also be applied to sub-groups in the labour market, and we illustrate the case of female public sector nurses and midwives, where the comparison group are private sector workers who have ever been, or will be, public sector nurses or midwives. Measured variations in this nurses' differential reflects the various changes in pay structure and government pay policies over the period; it is striking however that in the last decade, the 'raw' differential accruing to public sector nurses and midwives has declined almost continuously, whereas the composition and quality-adjusted differential shows no overall trend.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Disney & Amanda Gosling, 2008. "Changing public sector wage differentials in the UK," IFS Working Papers W08/02, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:08/02
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    File URL: http://www.ifs.org.uk/wps/wp0802.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fabien Postel-Vinay & Hélène Turon, 2007. "The Public Pay Gap in Britain: Small Differences That (Don't?) Matter," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(523), pages 1460-1503, October.
    2. Terrell, Katherine, 1993. "Public-private wage differentials in Haiti Do public servants earn a rent?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 293-314, December.
    3. Natalia Pimenta Monteiro, 2010. "Using propensity matching estimators to evaluate the impact of privatization on wages," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(10), pages 1293-1313.
    4. Borland, Jeff & Hirschberg, Joe & Lye, Jenny, 1998. "Earnings of Public Sector and Private Sector Employees in Australia: Is There a Difference?," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 74(224), pages 36-53, March.
    5. George Jakubson, 1991. "Estimation and Testing of the Union Wage Effect Using Panel Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(5), pages 971-991.
    6. Dustmann, Christian & van Soest, Arthur, 1998. "Public and private sector wages of male workers in Germany," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(8), pages 1417-1441, September.
    7. Haskel, Jonathan & Szymanski, Stefan, 1993. "Privatization, Liberalization, Wages and Employment: Theory and Evidence for the UK," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 60(238), pages 161-181, May.
    8. Stephen Nickell & Glenda Quintini, 2002. "The Consequences of The Decline in Public Sector Pay in Britain: A Little Bit of Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(477), pages 107-118, February.
    9. van der Gaag, Jacques & Vijverberg, Wim, 1988. "A Switching Regression Model for Wage Determinants in the Public and Private Sectors of a Developing Country," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(2), pages 244-252, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Marie Drolet & Karen Mumford, 2012. "The Gender Pay Gap for Private-Sector Employees in Canada and Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 50(3), pages 529-553, September.
    2. Bargain, Olivier & Melly, Blaise, 2008. "Public Sector Pay Gap in France: New Evidence Using Panel Data," IZA Discussion Papers 3427, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Johan Willner, 2010. "Public Options and Altruistic Firms - Antitrust Targets or Tools? The Welfare Impact of a Mixed Oligopoly With Managerial firms," Discussion Papers 59, Aboa Centre for Economics.
    4. Faggio, Giulia & Overman, Henry, 2014. "The effect of public sector employment on local labour markets," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 91-107.
    5. Maczulskij, Terhi, 2013. "Public–private sector wage differentials and the business cycle," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 284-301.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J58 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Public Policy

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