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Barbara Biasi (Stanford)

16 February 2017 @ 12:00


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16 February 2017
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“Unions, Salaries, and The Market for Teachers: Evidence from Wisconsin”

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A careful study of teachers’ labor demand and supply, while extremely relevant for policy, is challenging due to a lack of variation in pay, as teacher salaries are usually set using steps-and-lanes schedules based entirely on seniority and academic credentials. This paper exploits the passage of Act 10 in Wisconsin in 2011, which changed the scope of collective bargaining on teacher salaries, to study the effects of changes in pay on teachers’ labor market, and on the composition of the teaching workforce. As a result of this law some districts started to individually negotiate salaries with each teacher, whereas other districts continued setting salaries using seniority-based schedules. I first document an increase in salary dispersion in individual-salaries districts, and show that it is correlated with teacher value-added. Teachers responded to changes in pay by sorting across districts or by exiting: I find a 34 percent increase in the quality of teachers moving from salaryschedule to individual-salary districts, and a 17 percent decrease in the quality of teachers exiting individual-salary districts. Building from this reduced-form evidence, I estimate the parameters of teachers’ labor supply and demand using a two-sided choice model. Simulating the model on different salary schemes shows that an increase in the quality component of salaries in one district is associated with an improvement in average quality of the teaching workforce, driven by both in-movements of higher-quality teachers and out-movements and exits of lower-quality teachers. An increase in all districts is, however, associated with a smaller improvement, entirely attributable to exits of lower-quality teachers.