This study presents a theoretical model of honest behavior in the public sector (public sector honesty), and its relationship with corruption. We test this model empirically by utilizing and extending a unique dataset of honest behavior of public and private sector workers across 40 countries, gathered in a field experiment conducted by Cohn et al. (2019; N=17,303). We find that public sector honesty is determined by country-level societal culture and public sector culture; public sector honesty predicts corruption levels, independently from the effect of incentive structures – in line with the Becker-Stigler model. We find no support for a global mean difference in honest behavior between public- and private-sector workers, alongside substantive cross-country variation in sector differences in honest behavior. The emphasis assigned to honesty of public sector workers within each country appears to be locally determined by the prevailing public sector culture. These results imply that beyond cross-national variation in the scope of publicness, it’s very content may vary across countries. Lastly, the results of this study consistently fails to support the selection thesis, and we discuss the practical implications of this result for anti-corruption policy.