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Changing Labor Market Opportunities for Women and the Quality of Teachers 1957-1992

  • Sean P. Corcoran
  • William N. Evans
  • Robert S. Schwab

School officials and policy makers have grown increasingly concerned about their ability to attract and retain talented teachers. A number of authors have shown that in recent years the brightest students at least those with the highest verbal and math scores on standardized tests are less likely to enter teaching. In addition, it is frequently claimed that the ability of schools to attract these top students has been steadily declining for years. There is, however, surprisingly little evidence measuring the extent to which this popular proposition is true. We have good reason to suspect that the quality of those entering teaching has fallen over time. Teaching has remained a predominately female profession for years; at the same time, the employment opportunities for talented women outside of teaching have soared. In this paper, we combine data from four longitudinal surveys of high school graduates spanning the years 1957-1992 to examine how the propensity for talented women to enter teaching has changed over time. We find that while the quality of the average new female teacher has fallen only slightly over this period, the likelihood that a female from the top of her high school class will eventually enter teaching has fallen dramatically from 1964 to 1992 by our estimation, from almost 20% to under 4%.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9180.

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Date of creation: Sep 2002
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Corcoran, Sean P., William N. Evans and Robert M. Schwab. "Changing Labor-Market Opportunities For Women And The Quality Of Teachers, 1957-2000," American Economic Review, 2004, v94(2,May), 230-235.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9180
Note: CH ED
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  1. Peter Temin, 2002. "Teacher Quality and the Future of America," NBER Working Papers 8898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hanushek, Eric, 1971. "Teacher Characteristics and Gains in Student Achievement: Estimation Using Micro Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(2), pages 280-88, May.
  3. Flyer, Fredrick & Rosen, Sherwin, 1997. "The New Economics of Teachers and Education," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages S104-39, January.
  4. Peter Temin, 2002. "Teacher Quality and the Future of America," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 28(3), pages 285-300, Summer.
  5. Hanushek, Eric A. & Rivkin, Steven G., 2006. "Teacher Quality," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  6. Hanushek, Eric A. & Pace, Richard R., 1995. "Who chooses to teach (and why)?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 101-117, June.
  7. Dale Ballou & Michael Podgursky, 1996. "Teacher Pay and Teacher Quality," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number tptq.
  8. Alan Krueger, 2000. "Economic Considerations and Class Size," Working Papers 826, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  9. Darius Lakdawalla, 2001. "The Declining Quality of Teachers," NBER Working Papers 8263, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Steven G. Rivkin & Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain, 2005. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 417-458, 03.
  11. Polachek, Solomon William, 1981. "Occupational Self-Selection: A Human Capital Approach to Sex Differences in Occupational Structure," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(1), pages 60-69, February.
  12. Ehrenberg, Ronald G. & Brewer, Dominic J., 1994. "Do school and teacher characteristics matter? Evidence from High School and Beyond," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 1-17, March.
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