This study contributes to our understanding of the differences in work motivation between the public and private sectors. Data from a survey of 3,314 private sector and 409 public sector employees in Belgium strongly confirm previous research showing that public sector employees are less extrinsically motivated. Differences in hierarchical level are more important determinants of work motivation than sectoral differences. In addition, most observed differences can be wholly or partially explained by differences in job content, not by the sector itself. Evidence is presented to show that motivational differences can be explained by a positive choice of work–life balance.