Incentives and the Sorting of Altruistic Agents into Street-Level Bureaucracies

Margaretha Buurman, Robert Dur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Many street-level bureaucrats have the dual task of helping some clients, while sanctioning others. We develop a model of a street-level bureaucracy, and we study the implications of its personnel policy on the self-selection and allocation decisions of agents who differ in altruism towards clients. When bureaucrats are paid flat wages, they do not sanction, and the most altruistic types sort into bureaucracy. Pay-for-performance induces some bureaucrats to sanction, but it necessitates an increase in compensation, which can result in sorting from the top and bottom of the altruism distribution. We also explain why street-level bureaucrats often experience an overload of clients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1318-1345
Number of pages28
JournalThe Scandinavian Journal of Economics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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