The Greek Public Sector Wage Premium before the Crisis: Size, Selection and Relative Valuation of Characteristics



We examine the Greek public–private wage differential before the debt crisis to evaluate the prospective impact of the recent public sector pay cuts. We find a large public premium which persists after controlling for individual and job characteristics. For men, much of this is accounted for by self-selection into the sector that rewards better their characteristics, while for women it is largely driven by sectoral differences in returns. We attribute these effects to more egalitarian pay structures in the public sector and to demand problems in the private sector. The recent policy measures only partially change this situation, as wage deflation extends to the private sector, preserving public premia for the low paid.