Barfort, Sebastian; Harmon, Nikolaj; Hjorth, Frederik and Olsen, Asmus Leth (2017). Sustaining Honesty in Public Service: The Role of Selection. Previous versions of the paper was presented at The Midwest Political Association Meeting, Chicago, April 16th, 2015, The Public Management Research Conferences, Minneapolis, June 13th, 2015, Stockholm University SOFI, University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University, and Copenhagen Business School.

ABSTRACT: We study the role of self-selection into public service in sustaining honesty in the public sector. Focusing on the world’s least corrupt country, Denmark, we use a survey experiment to document strong self-selection of more honest individuals into public service. This result differs sharply from existing findings from more corrupt settings. Differences in pro-social vs. pecuniary motivation appear central to the observed selection pattern. Dishonest individuals are more pecuniary motivated and self-select out of public service and into higher-paying private sector jobs. Accordingly, we find that increasing public sector wages would attract more dishonest candidates to public service in Denmark.

Barfort, Sebastian; Harmon, Nikolaj; Hjorth, Frederik and Olsen, Asmus Leth (2015). A Formal Model of Corruption, Dishonesty and Selection into Public Service.

ABSTRACT: Recent empirical studies have found that in high corruption countries, inherently more dishonest individuals are more likely to want to enter into public service, while the reverse is true in low corruption countries. In this note, we provide a simple formal model that
rationalizes this empirical pattern as the result of countries being stuck in different selfsustaining equilibria where high levels of corruption and negative selection into public
service are mutually reinforcing.