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Are Public Sector Workers Different? Cross-European Evidence from Elderly Workers and Retirees

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  • Tonin, Mirco

    () (Free University of Bozen/Bolzano)

  • Vlassopoulos, Michael

    () (University of Southampton)

Abstract

The public sector employs a large share of the labor force to execute important functions (e.g. regulation and public good provision) in an environment beset by severe agency problems. Attracting workers who are motivated to serve the public interest is important to mitigate these problems. We investigate whether public and private sector employees differ in terms of their public service motivation, as measured by their propensity to volunteer, using a representative sample of elderly workers from 12 European countries. To overcome potential identification difficulties related to unobservable differences in working conditions (e.g. working time, required effort, job security, career incentives), we also look at retired workers. We find that public sector workers, both those currently employed and those already retired, are significantly more prosocial; however, the difference in prosociality is explained by differences in the composition of the workforce across the two sectors, in terms of (former) workers' education and occupation. Looking across industries and within occupations, we find that former public sector workers in education are more motivated, while there are no differences across the two sectors when considering broad occupational categories. We also investigate other dimensions and find no differences in terms of trust, while there is evidence of some differences in risk aversion, political preferences, life and job satisfaction.

Suggested Citation

  • Tonin, Mirco & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2014. "Are Public Sector Workers Different? Cross-European Evidence from Elderly Workers and Retirees," IZA Discussion Papers 8238, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8238
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    Cited by:

    1. Mirco Tonin & Michael Vlassopoulos, 2015. "Are public sector workers different? Cross-European evidence from elderly workers and retirees," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-21, December.
    2. Dur, Robert & van Lent, Max, 2018. "Serving the public interest in several ways: Theory and empirics," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 13-24.
    3. Brigitte Granville & Jaume Martorell Cruz, 2016. "Squared Segmentation: How the Insider/Outsider divide across Public/Private Employment shapes attitudes towards markets," Working Papers 78, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research.
    4. Renfu Luo & Grant Miller & Scott Rozelle & Sean Sylvia & Marcos Vera-Hernández, 2015. "Can Bureaucrats Really Be Paid Like CEOs? School Administrator Incentives for Anemia Reduction in Rural China," NBER Working Papers 21302, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Lucia Rizzica, 2016. "Why go public? A study of the individual determinants of public sector employment choice," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 343, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    6. Peter Backus & Alejandro Esteller-Moré, 2014. "Is income redistribution a form of insurance, a public good or both?," Working Papers 2014/33, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    life satisfaction; trust; risk aversion; public service motivation; public sector; volunteering;

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • H83 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Public Administration
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets

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