Michael Callen, Saad Gulzar, Muhammad Yasir Khan, Ali Hasanain, 21 August 2016

Government employee absenteeism is often a serious problem in developing countries. One potential reason is government positions being appointed as a kind of patronage to reward political loyalty. This column presents the results of an intervention designed to address government doctor absenteeism in Punjab, Pakistan. The programme provided government inspectors with a smartphone app to streamline information flows, and improved inspection rates. The results support the political patronage hypothesis and provide encouraging support for data-driven policymaking.

Manuel García Santana, Josep Pijoan-Mas, Enrique Moral-Benito, Roberto Ramos, 23 May 2016

Spain enjoyed substantial growth in the decade prior to the Global Crisis, despite declining aggregate productivity. Recent research blames the poor productivity on different forms of a ‘financial resource curse’. This column argues that resource misallocation was particularly severe due to corruption and crony capitalism. This suggests future growth will require serious political reforms. 

Masayuki Morikawa, 23 November 2014

The appropriate level of public sector wages is debated frequently in every country, and the debate has intensified in the wake of the global financial crisis. This column presents evidence that regional wage differentials in Japan are greater in the private sector than in the public sector. In regions where public sector wages are relatively high, skilled individuals may self-select into public sector jobs. At the same time, public sector employers in metropolitan regions such as Tokyo may have difficulty in hiring high quality employees.

Benedicta Marzinotto, Alessandro Turrini, 05 September 2014

The link between public- and private-sector compensation has important implications for the labour market and price competitiveness. This column reports that manufacturing and government wages co-move both in the long and short run, but that the long-run co-movement is much stronger where the government is an important employer. This co-movement tends to break down during fiscal consolidation periods, except in large-government countries. Moreover, manufacturing wages exhibit a stronger co-movement with productivity in countries where government wages are set via collective bargaining. 

Simon Burgess, Carol Propper, Marisa Ratto, Emma Tominey, Stephanie von Hinke Kessler Scholder, 06 September 2012

Do cash incentives matter in the public sector? This column looks at the use of incentive schemes, such as performance-related pay, in the British Labour government between 1997 and 2010. It finds that cash incentives do matter, but that their design is critical.

Sanghamitra Das, Kala Krishna , Sergey Lychagin, Rohini Somanathan, 30 May 2011

Since the late 1990s, India has liberalised its economy to an extent unthinkable even 20 years ago. This column looks at the effect that private sector competition can have on the country’s still large public sector. Using plant-level data from the main provider of steel for India’s railways it finds that when the publicly-owned company faced the risk of closure, productivity dramatically increased.

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