Some public sector workers earn up to a sixth more than people employed with private firms, it has emerged.
Official figures showed the pay gap varied from 6.1% to 18.9% in 2010 after qualifications, service and age are considered.
The largest gap was among those on the lowest incomes but it decreased as workers in both sectors earned more, according to the Central Statistics Office.
"Overall, the summary results show that, on average, public sector employees had higher educational attainment, longer service, were older, and were more likely to be in professional jobs than their counterparts in the private sector," the CSO said.
The study also revealed the gender pay gap was less in the public sector, with men earning an average 12% an hour more than woman hourly women, compared to a 21% gap in the private sector.
But statisticians warned the analysis does not compare similar jobs between the public and private sectors.
For example, gardai and soldiers are found exclusively within the public sector, while jobs in accommodation, food services or construction are only in the private sector, it added.