Employees' pro-social motivation has been shown to be positively related to job satisfaction, especially when the perceived usefulness of the job to society and other people is high. There is, however, a lack of analyses which include both public and private employees, and it has not yet been studied whether the relationships are robust across welfare state regimes. This study therefore examines the moderated relationship between pro-social motivation and job satisfaction. Using data from the cross-national 2005 ISSP survey (14 countries, N = 10,630), it confirms that the relationship between pro-social motivation and job satisfaction is moderated by perceived usefulness of the job for society and other people. Usefulness again depends on the individual's employment sector (public versus private), and this public–private difference in perceived usefulness also varies between different welfare state regimes. This indicates that sector differences in how pro-social motivation affects job satisfaction depends on the broader institutional context, and the article therefore contributes with important knowledge for the recruitment and retention of motivated and satisfied employees in a period of changing public–private responsibilities in the provision of welfare services.