|This study explores the determinants of public employees’ job satisfaction. We are focusing on three concepts – reciprocal motives, personality traits and wage differences – to explain job satisfaction and production sector affiliation. Estimation results obtained from multivariate analyses on individual level data from the German Socio-economic Panel Study (GSOEP) can be summarized in three points: First, in contrast to reciprocal motives, personality traits have a unique and direct effect on public and private sector employees’ job satisfaction. Second, even though we cannot proof that public employees at the high-end of the earnings distribution trade a loss in pecuniary benefits against an increase in non-pecuniary benefits, the empirical analysis strongly supports the notion that public employees’ job satisfaction function varies across the earnings distribution. Finally, public employees’ personal characteristics can be associated with lower levels of negative reciprocity, conscientiousness and neuroticism, pointing out to a potential self-selection and recruitment bias in the public sector.
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