Measuring the Relative Pay of Latin American School Teachers at the turn of the 20th Century

Produced by: 
Peruvian Economic Association (PEA)
Available from: 
August 2014
Paper author(s): 
Alejandra Mizala
Hugo Ñopo
Education - Health

How much are teachers paid in comparison to those in other professions in Latin America? How have these differences evolved at the turn of the 20th century? This paper documents the extent to which teachers are underpaid vis‐à‐vis workers in other professional and technical occupations in thirteen Latin‐American countries circa 2007. It also analyses the evolution of the earnings gaps between circa 1997 and circa 2007. After controlling the earnings differentials by observable characteristics linked to productivity, using the methodology developed in Ñopo (2008), we find that teachers are underpaid vis‐à‐vis other professionals and technicians in Latin America in both periods: circa 1997 and circa 2007. This has been the case for hourly earnings gaps at the main and secondary jobs. However, the analysis performed provides evidence that the earnings gap decreased during the decade of analysis, most of the drop is attributed to a general trend in earnings gap reduction rather than as a result of teachers’ improvements on their observable characteristics. The earnings gap shows important heterogeneities, across countries and along the earnings distributions.


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