Working Paper 11/268 - abstract

Who works in the public sector? Evidence from the World Values Survey (PDF, 534kB)

Sarah Smith and Edd Cowley

Earlier single-country studies found a higher level of intrinsic motivation among public sector workers, compared to the private sector. Using data from the World Values Survey, covering 51 countries, we find a tendency for public sector workers to be more intrinsically motivated, but this is not a universal relationship: we also show that the level of government corruption (appropriately instrumented) explains some of the variation across countries. Consistent with earlier studies that find that selection accounts for differential motivation across sectors, we show that intrinsically-motivated workers are less likely to work in the public sector when corruption is higher.