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The Economics of Teacher Quality

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  • Lakdawalla, Darius

Abstract

Concern is often voiced about the quality of American schoolteachers. This paper suggests that, while the relative quality of teachers is declining, this decline may be the result of technological changes that have raised the price of skilled workers outside teaching without affecting the productivity of skilled teachers. Growth in the price of skilled workers can cause schools to lower the relative quality of teachers and raise teacher quantity instead. Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth demonstrates that wage and schooling are good measures of teacher quality. Analysis of U.S. census microdata then reveals that the relative schooling and experience-adjusted relative wages of U.S. schoolteachers have fallen significantly from 1940 to 1990. Moreover, class sizes have also fallen substantially. The declines in class size and in relative quality seem correlated over time and space with growth in the relative price of skilled workers.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 49 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 285-329

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:y:2006:v:49:i:1:p:285-329

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Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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Cited by:
  1. Gregory Gilpin & Michael Kaganovich, 2011. "The Quantity and Quality of Teachers: Dynamics of the Trade-off," Caepr Working Papers 2011-006, Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington.
  2. Hatsor, Limor, 2012. "Occupational choice: Teacher quality versus teacher quantity," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 608-623.
  3. Grönqvist, Erik & Vlachos, Jonas, 2008. "One Size Fits All? The Effects of Teacher Cognitive and Non-cognitive Abilities on Student," Working Paper Series 779, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  4. Andersson, Christian & Waldenström, Nina, 2007. "Teacher supply and the market for teachers," Working Paper Series 2007:5, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  5. Falch, Torberg & Johansen, Kåre & Strøm, Bjarne, 2009. "Teacher shortages and the business cycle," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 648-658, December.
  6. Gregory Gilpin & Michael Kaganovich, 2009. "The Quantity and Quality of Teachers: A Dynamic Trade-off," CESifo Working Paper Series 2516, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Grönqvist, Erik & Vlachos, Jonas, 2008. "One size fits all? The effects of teacher cognitive and non-cognitive abilities on student achievement," Working Paper Series 2008:25, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  8. Gilpin, Gregory A., 2011. "Reevaluating the effect of non-teaching wages on teacher attrition," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 598-616, August.

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