Stephan Meier

Bureaucratic Rents and Life Satisfaction

Coauthor(s): Simon Luchinger, Alois Stutzer.


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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.

Source: Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization
Exact Citation:
Meier, Stephan, Simon Luchinger, and Alois Stutzer. "Bureaucratic Rents and Life Satisfaction." Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization 24 (October 2008): 476-488.
Volume: 24
Pages: 476-488
Date: 10 2008