Public/Private Sector Compensation Bakeoff (Manhattan Institute Edition)

Two days ago, splendid reader Steve Stein asked for some statistics to back up this claim made on NPR by a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute (and noted by the hardworking staff).

Mr. E.J. McMAHON (Manhattan Institute): I think the research is pretty clear that total compensation in the public sector is greater than total compensation in the private sector.

So we sent an email to the good folks at the Institute.

Dear Sir or Madam:

I write the blog Campaign Outsider . . .  Yesterday I posted an entry that referred to the Manhattan Institute’s Edmund McMahon and his comment on NPR that “I think the research is pretty clear that total compensation in the public sector is greater than total compensation in the private sector.”

One of my splendid readers then commented thusly:

“Do we get a link to McMahon’s ‘pretty clear’ research?  Pretty please?  (If not, such a claim is worse than worthless!)”

Can you help me out with this so I can reply to the commenter?

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

John R. Carroll

And sure enough, press officer (and roud BU alum) Kasia Zabawa sent this:

Dear Professor Carroll,

Here are two links to such research:

www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj30n1/cj30n1-5.pdf

http://blog.american.com/?p=27543

The first is by Chris Edwards of Cato and the other by Andrew Biggs of AEI (contain links or references to other research and the underlying numbers).

Warm regards,

Kasia (COM/CAS 2008)

Say thank you to Kasia, Steve.

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3 Responses to Public/Private Sector Compensation Bakeoff (Manhattan Institute Edition)

  1. Michael Pahre says:

    Don’t these guys understand the English language?

    I can’t imagine McMahon really means to say “total compensation in the public sector is greater than total compensation in the private sector,” since that is ludicrous — there is far, far more total compensation in the private sector than in the public sector.

    He needs to use the word “average,” i.e.: “average total compensation in the public sector is greater than average total compensation in the private sector [uncorrected for education].”

    Do you care to ask McMahon if he misquoted himself?

  2. Stephen Stein says:

    OK, since you asked, John… Thanks, Kasia!

    I’d mean it more if the Cato link actually worked. It may be due to the spotty internet here on vacation.

    And the other link says something as definitive as “An upcoming op-ed will focus on Wisconsin workers and may show the same results.” May show? OK. I’ll wait.

    I’ve considered Ezra Klein’s continuing focus on this issue as definitive. But there’s one new variable in the blog.american article – job security – that isn’t considered in Klein’s analysis.

    So my mind remains open, but they still have to go quite a ways to convince me Klein is wrong.

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