Économie et Statistique n° 369-370 - 2003 Public Employment - Careers Professional - Mobility

Economie et Statistique
Paru le : 01/07/2004

The economic determinants of entry into the civil service

Denis Fougère et Julien Pouget

The civil service will be faced with a massive wave of retirement in the coming years, which could lead it to recruit large numbers of new staff. It is therefore essential to gain a clearer understanding of what makes the civil service an appealing body to work for. This paper sets out to explain the decision to enter the public sector by means of two of the main economic determinants, i.e. the risk of unemployment and the relative level of wages on offer in the public and private sectors. This type of study is warranted by the weight of the public sector in France (one in four employees) and its institutional particularities (competitive entrance examinations and job security). The link between the large number of civil service competitive exam candidates and the main macroeconomic determinants is studied firstly at aggregate level. The drawing power of the public sector is cyclical and depends to a large extent on the business cycle. The rate of candidates increases significantly when the unemployment rate rises (especially for women and medium-ranking and junior staff positions). In addition, the wage differential positively influences the number of applications for senior staff competitive exams (especially from men). A simple choice-of-occupation model is then used to show that the level of education is a greater deciding factor in access to public sector jobs than in access to private sector jobs, but that wage yields on education are lower in the public sector. Having a father working in the public sector significantly increases the chances of entering public sector employment. The probability of applying to enter the civil service is extremely high for women and the less qualified. This finding can be explained by a high risk of unemployment, but more especially by the less attractive starting wage in the private sector. The probability of applying held steady at a very high level for the less qualified in the 1990s, while it followed th

Economie et Statistique

No 369-370

Paru le : 01/07/2004