Paper - Cyber Security Project, Belfer Center

(Why) Is There a Public/Private Pay Gap?

| August 2018

Executive Summary

The government is facing a severe shortage of skilled workers, especially in information technology and cyber security  jobs. The conventional  wisdom  in  branches  of  policy  and public administration is that the shortage is driven by low salaries that are not competitive   for attracting top talent. Using longitudinal data on high skilled workers between 1993 and 2013, this paper shows that, if anything, government employees earn more than their private sector counterparts. Although government workers tend to earn less in the raw data, these differences are driven by the correlation between unobserved ability and selection into private sector jobs.  These results are robust to additional data from the Census Bureau between 2005 and 2016. Instead, this paper shows that a more plausible culprit behind the worker shortage in government is a lack of development opportunities and poor management.

The paper represents only the views of the author and not those of any affiliated institutions or the United States.

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For Academic Citation: Makridis, Christos. “(Why) Is There a Public/Private Pay Gap?.” Paper, Cyber Security Project, Belfer Center, August 2018.

The Author