November 1, 2000

Teachers, shortages and salaries; an empirical research for teachers in Dutch secondary education

Tekorten aan leraren Voortgezet Onderwijs gericht bestrijden

Press release
Beleid gericht op het verbeteren van de salarissen van specifieke groepen docenten in het Voortgezet Onderwijs (VO) lijkt effectiever te zijn om tekorten te verminderen dan een algemene loonsverhoging. Scholen kunnen bovendien gebruik maken van de mogelijkheid om schaarse docenten die zij willen binnenhalen of behouden, extra te belonen.

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The paper relates teachers' wages to wages of employees with the same characteristics in other sectors over the period 1979 - 1997. In 1979, teachers were better off. In the 90s, teachers received a 5 percent lower hourly wage (1995 - 1997) than employees with the same characteristics elsewhere. The relative earning position differs substantially among various groups within the teachers' profession. Inexperienced teachers get relatively high hourly wages. The lifetime income of teachers with an academic degree is about 10 percent lower than that of comparable employees in other sectors. For teachers with a college degree, the lifetime income is in line with that of employees elsewhere. Female and part-time teachers have relatively high hourly wages.

The paper analyses further three possibilities to reduce teachers' shortages.

  1. Shortages may be reduced by a general wage increase. According to estimates with data on individual teachers, the short-term wage elasticity of labour supply of incumbent teachers is between 0.20 and 0.25. The entry of newly-hired teachers makes labour supply more elastic in the long run.
  2. Shortages are unevenly distributed over regions and subjects. Shortages may be reduced more effectively by wage increases for specific groups than by general wage increases. Wage differentiation among teachers may be used to reduce specific shortages within schools. Since 1996, schools may give additional salary increases to teachers. Estimates for 1997 indicate that schools hardly make use of this instrument.
  3. Shortages may also be reduced by enhancing working weeks of inexperienced teachers. There are indications that inexperienced teachers work fewer hours on average than they prefer. This is due to the fact that vacancies mainly arise in the form of part-time jobs. A better match between the preferred and actual length of the working week would reduce shortages of teachers. Furthermore, the monthly salary of teachers would increase, so that the attractiveness of the teachers' profession could improve. It could result in additional teachers' labour supply.

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