Speed or Greed? High Wages and Corruption Among Public Servants

Doron Navot, Yaniv Reingewertz, Nissim Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Scholars maintain that higher wages for public servants would make the public sector more efficient and reduce the abuse of power. This article challenges this idea and suggests that higher wages may actually increase public corruption. We argue that increasing pecuniary incentives for public service might lead public employees to advance their own self-interests and encourage justifications for accepting bribes. We test our theory empirically using 18,800 observations from 58 countries taken from the sixth wave of the World Values Survey. The findings confirm our theory and suggest a positive association between public servants’ wages and the toleration of corruption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)580-601
Number of pages22
JournalAdministration and Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • corruption
  • integrity
  • motivation
  • public service

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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