SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 930
Several studies have analyzed different motives to work in the public versus private sector. Some studies focus on prosocial motivation, others focus on need for security (risk aversion). However, the study of prosocial motivation in the context of public sector employment has largely focused on altruism and neglected other forms of prosocial motivation, in particular civic virtue, the motive to contribute to the society. In addition, it is unclear whether the positive relationship between prosocial motivation and public sector employment is due to selection at the career start or socialization during the career. Our study extends the understanding of the motivational basis of public sector employment by considering civic virtue in addition to altruism and risk aversion and by investigating selection and socialization. Using a largely representative, longitudinal data set of employees in Germany including 63,101 observations of 13,673 different individuals, we find that civic virtue relates positively to public sector employment beyond altruism and risk aversion. We find evidence on selection and no evidence on socialization as an explanation for this result. Our study offers important insight into the motivational basis of public versus private sector employment and has implications for employers' attempts to attract and retain suitable employees.
civic virtue engagement prosocial motivation public sector employment selection socialization