Pre-emptive Strikes and Public Sector Pay

I’m almost reluctant to write about this topic because of the level of hysteria that it provokes. Still, we cannot deny that a national public sector strike is an important topic worthy of debate on this blog.

My overall reaction is that the debate about public sector pay is descending, perhaps predictably, into a damaging battle between vested interests. There is much to dislike on both sides of the debate.

Public Sector Pay

John O’Hagan writes in today’s Irish Times on the topic of public sector pay: you can read it here.

The Public-Private Sector Pay Gap in Ireland: What Lies Beneath?

This new paper responds to the recent CSO study and also tackles several new dimensions of this question.

Paper here.


This paper provides a sub-sectoral analysis of changes in the public-private sector pay gap in Ireland between 2003 and 2006. We find that between March 2003 and October 2006 the public sector pay premium increased from 14 to 26 per cent and that there was substantial variation between subsectors of the public service. Within the public service the premium in 2006 was highest in Education and Security Services and lowest in the Civil Service and Local Authorities. In the private sector the pay penalty in 2006, relative to the public sector, was most severe in Hotels & Restaurants and in Wholesale & Retail and least severe in Financial Intermediation and Construction. The paper tests for the sensitivity of the pay gap estimates using a matching framework, which provides a stronger emphasis on job content, and finds the results to be broadly comparable to OLS. Finally, the study highlights the problems associated with controlling for organisational size in any study of the public-private pay gap in Ireland.

ESR Paper on Public Sector Pay

The new edition of the Economic and Social Review is now available online. The edition contains two policy papers. One is this paper by Eilish Kelly, Seamus McGuinness and Philip O’Connell on public sector pay rates. I think Richard Tol is going to open a thread on the other paper which focuses on the carbon tax.

The three regular papers in the edition (David Audretsh on entrepreneurship, Ken Benoit and Michael Marsh on political science in Ireland, and Vahagn Galstyan and Philip Lane on fiscal policy and competitiveness) are also, in my opinion, very interesting contributions.

Public Sector Pay Differentials: Regressions Can Actually Be Useful

Last week, the CSO released the latest results from the National Employment Survey, which reports detailed information on earnings across all sectors of the economy.  The data from the survey relate to October 2007.

The first media treatment of the story that I saw was the Sunday Independent’s lead story saying the public sector is “now earning 50 per cent more the private sector.”  My reaction was that while the headline might be true, this wasn’t a very useful way to think about the issue of public sector pay. 

The report also details a host of other well-known patterns: Those with more education earn more, older workers earn more, those in professional occupations earn more.  With the possible exception of Vincent Browne, I’m not sure there is anyone out there who would draw the implication from these figures that the government should intervene to eliminate all these gaps.