Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service in Denmark: Who Runs the World's Least Corrupt Public Sector?

57 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2015

See all articles by Sebastian Barfort

Sebastian Barfort

University of Copenhagen

Nikolaj A. Harmon

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics

Frederik G Hjorth

University of Copenhagen - Department of Political Science

Asmus Leth Olsen

University of Copenhagen - Department of Political Science

Date Written: September 4, 2015

Abstract

Are country-level differences in corruption related to the dishonesty level of individuals entering public service? Recent studies have found that dishonest individuals self-select into public service in high-corruption settings. Little is known, however, about what is driving this pattern and whether a similar pattern exists in low-corruption settings. This paper examines selection into public service in the world’s least corrupt country, Denmark. We subject a relevant student population to a standard experimental dishonesty task and develop a novel method to estimate individual-level dishonesty from the experimental data. We then relate estimates of dishonesty to subjects’ job preferences and characteristics. In contrast to previous findings, dishonest individuals in low-corruption Denmark are less likely to want to enter public service. This self-selection is not related to risk-aversion or ability. Instead, we find that dishonest individuals who self-select into higher paid private sector careers such as finance are less altruistic and place a higher weight on their own earning opportunities. Accordingly, counterfactual wage questions suggest that higher public sector wages would attract more dishonest candidates to the public sector in Denmark.

Keywords: occupational choice, sector choice, coin tossing, dice under cup

JEL Classification: D73 C91, H83

Suggested Citation

Barfort, Sebastian and Harmon, Nikolaj Arpe and Hjorth, Frederik G and Olsen, Asmus Leth, Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service in Denmark: Who Runs the World's Least Corrupt Public Sector? (September 4, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2664983 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2664983

Sebastian Barfort (Contact Author)

University of Copenhagen ( email )

Nørregade 10
Copenhagen, København DK-1165
Denmark

Nikolaj Arpe Harmon

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5
Bygning 26
1353 Copenhagen K.
Denmark

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.ku.dk/nharmon

Frederik G Hjorth

University of Copenhagen - Department of Political Science ( email )

Solbjerg Plads 3
Copenhagen, DK-2100
Denmark
+4535324104 (Phone)

Asmus Leth Olsen

University of Copenhagen - Department of Political Science ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5, opgang E
Copenhagen, DK-1353
Denmark
+45 35 32 33 66 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://polsci.ku.dk/english/

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