Bureaucratic rents and life satisfaction

Simon Luechinger, Stephan Meier, Alois Stutzer
2007
Institutions affect bureaucrats' possibilities to acquire rents; they determine the degree of accountability and responsiveness of officials and of political control of the bureaucracy and, thereby, the size and distribution of rents in the public sphere. Those rents can involve higher wages, monetary and nonmonetary fringe benefits, and bribes. We propose a direct measure to capture the total of these rents: the difference in subjective well-being between bureaucrats and people working in the
more » ... ple working in the private sector. In a sample of 42 countries, we find large variations in the extent of rents in the public bureaucracy. The extent of rents is determined by differences in institutional and political constraints. In particular, we find judicial independence to be of major relevance for a tamed bureaucracy. Further, our measure for rents correlates with indicators of regulatory policies and perceptions of corruption. (JEL D72, D73, I31, J30, J45) Institutions affect bureaucrats' possibilities to acquire rents; they determine the degree of accountability and responsiveness of officials and of political control of the bureaucracy and, thereby, the size and distribution of rents in the public sphere. Those rents can involve higher wages, monetary and nonmonetary fringe benefits, and bribes. We propose a direct measure to capture the total of these rents: the difference in subjective well-being between bureaucrats and people working in the private sector. In a sample of 42 countries, we find large variations in the extent of rents in the public bureaucracy. The extent of rents is determined by differences in institutional and political constraints. In particular, we find judicial independence to be of major relevance for a tamed bureaucracy. Further, our measure for rents correlates with indicators of regulatory policies and perceptions of corruption. (
doi:10.5167/uzh-154872 fatcat:r4dyy2q7tvhlfczyyxbm6auoxm