“Do you want better education, pay teachers enough”

I found this study by Britton and Propper via Dylan William and he summarized the study as follows:

The study is a bit more nuanced, but still the highlights are:


  • We exploit wage regulation to examine the impact of pay on school performance
  • We analyse data from over 3000 schools containing around 200,000 teachers who educate around half a million children per year
  • School performance is adversely affected where wages paid to teachers are below market rates

This doesn’t mean that teachers are by definition better performing if they are paid more, but I do think it can mean that higher profiles are attracted to the profession. Do mind that in that case the story isn’t that clear cut. Thereof examine this PIAAC-overview to check the PIAAC-results (PISA for adults) of teachers worldwide:

The blue line are the results of all working adults involved in PIAAC, the red line are the results of the teachers. You’ll notice that the idea that education is a negative choice for many, is not that clear in a lot of countries  (this was an euphemistic way of telling something related about who our teachers are and how good they are 😉 ). And if you check the UK than you’ll see that already the upper-middle class of PIAAC-perfomers are choosing education. The problem is also that the average is lower than in other countries.

Abstract of the study:

The impact of teacher pay on school productivity is a central concern for governments worldwide, yet evidence is mixed. In this paper we exploit a feature of teacher labour markets to determine the impact of teacher wages. Teacher wages are commonly set in a manner that results in flat wages across heterogeneous labour markets. This creates an exogenous gap between the outside labour market and inside (regulated) wage for teachers. We use the centralised wage regulation of teachers in England to examine the effect of pay on school performance. We use data on over 3000 schools containing around 200,000 teachers who educate around half a million children per year. We find that teachers respond to pay. A ten percent shock to the wage gap between local labour market and teacher wages results in an average loss of around 2% in average school performance in the key exams taken at the end of compulsory schooling in England.


4 thoughts on ““Do you want better education, pay teachers enough”

    1. I did see the conversation and therefor added the original tweet for people to find it, and that’s why I also added the “a bit more nuanced”, but also I opted for this description as I do agree with Dylan William that his point can be supported too by the results in the report.

      1. I don’t deny that it would *help* to pay everyone more, so long as government can afford it, even when the beneficial effects will only be felt by some. But the affordability issue is critical when considering issues of government policy.

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