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Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service

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  • Rema Hanna
  • Shing-Yi Wang

Abstract

In this paper, we demonstrate that university students who cheat on a simple task in a laboratory setting are more likely to state a preference for entering public service. Importantly, we also show that cheating on this task is predictive of corrupt behavior by real government workers, implying that this measure captures a meaningful propensity towards corruption. Students who demonstrate lower levels of prosocial preferences in the laboratory games are also more likely to prefer to enter the government, while outcomes on explicit, two-player games to measure cheating and attitudinal measures of corruption do not systematically predict job preferences. We find that a screening process that chooses the highest ability applicants would not alter the average propensity for corruption among the applicant pool. Our findings imply that differential selection into government may contribute, in part, to corruption. They also emphasize that screening characteristics other than ability may be useful in reducing corruption, but caution that more explicit measures may offer little predictive power.

Suggested Citation

  • Rema Hanna & Shing-Yi Wang, 2013. "Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service," NBER Working Papers 19649, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19649
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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. Johannes Abeler & Daniele Nosenzo & Collin Raymond, 2016. "Preferences for Truth-Telling," CESifo Working Paper Series 6087, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Justin Mattias Valasek, 2015. "Reforming an Institutional Culture of Corruption: A Model of Motivated Agents and Collective Reputation," CESifo Working Paper Series 5599, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Garbarino, Ellen & Slonim, Robert & Villeval, Marie Claire, 2016. "Loss Aversion and Lying Behavior: Theory, Estimation and Empirical Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 10395, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Jordan Gans-Morse & Alexander S. Kalgin & Andrei V. Klimenko & Andrei A. Yakovlev, 2017. "Motivations for Public Service in Corrupt States: Evidence from Post-Soviet Russia," HSE Working papers WP BRP 13/PSP/2017, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    6. Nava Ashraf & Oriana Bandiera & Scott Lee, 2014. "Do-gooders and go-getters: career incentives, selection, and performance in public service delivery," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 54, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    7. repec:eee:joepsy:v:62:y:2017:i:c:p:258-267 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Dizon-Ross, Rebecca & Dupas, Pascaline & Robinson, Jonathan, 2015. "Governance and the Effectiveness of Public Health Subsidies," CEPR Discussion Papers 10690, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Fehrler, Sebastian & Fischbacher, Urs & Schneider, Maik T., 2016. "Who Runs? Honesty and Self-Selection into Politics," IZA Discussion Papers 10258, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Mirco Tonin, 2015. "Are workers motivated by the greater good?," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 138-138, March.
    11. Banuri, Sheheryar & Keefer, Philip, 2016. "Pro-social motivation, effort and the call to public service," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 139-164.
    12. Alem, Yonas & Eggert, Håkan & Kocher, Martin G. & Ruhinduka, Remidius D., 2016. "Why (field) experiments on unethical behavior are important:Comparing stated and revealed behavior," Working Papers in Economics 664, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    13. Faravelli, Marco & Friesen, Lana & Gangadharan, Lata, 2015. "Selection, tournaments, and dishonesty," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 160-175.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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