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Occupational choice: Teacher quality versus teacher quantity

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  • Hatsor, Limor

Abstract

This article examines the relationship between skill-biased technological changes and the decline in both teacher quality and pupil–teacher ratio—called the “quality–quantity trade-off”—in the United States and other advanced economies during the past several decades. The study presents a theory of educational production that emphasizes teachers’ occupational choices. A key assumption is that talented agents have a comparative advantage in learning. The model endogenously generates a teachers sector with intermediate abilities between two types of skilled workers with tertiary education: highly skilled workers and vocational workers. This unique feature helps specify which technological changes may lead to quality–quantity trade-offs. In particular, a crucial element is that the ratio of incomes and thus the income inequality rises within the skilled sector. In this case, the most talented teachers depart from the teachers sector to join the highly skilled sector, and as such, teacher quality declines. In other cases, both teacher quality and teacher quantity may increase. The results are consistent with the observed patterns of technology, educational attainment, educational expenditure, and wage inequality in advanced economies. Finally, another potential cause for the quality–quantity trade-off is a reduction in teacher certification requirement unless the reduction is implemented exclusively on high-ability workers.

Suggested Citation

  • Hatsor, Limor, 2012. "Occupational choice: Teacher quality versus teacher quantity," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 608-623.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:19:y:2012:i:4:p:608-623
    DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2012.05.003
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    Cited by:

    1. Limor Hatsor, 2014. "Allocation of Resources in Educational Production: The Budget Puzzle," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 16(6), pages 854-883, December.
    2. repec:aec:ebooks:12 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Human capital accumulation; Skill-biased technological change; Teacher quality; Pupil–teacher ratio; Education policy; Teacher certification;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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