Teacher pay in South Africa: How attractive is the teaching profession?

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP04/2009

Author(s): Paula Armstrong

JEL Classification: I2,J31

Keywords: Education, Wage differentials by occupations, Wage level and structure

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Educational quality is a challenged facing the South African schooling system. It is widely acknowledged that teachers play a central role in the quality of education received by students, and that the quality of teachers is largely dependent on the wage they are offered in the teaching profession. This paper investigates the state of teacher pay in the South African labour market by comparing the remuneration received by teachers with that received by their non-teaching counterparts. Remuneration is compared across educational attainment levels, years of experience and across age groups. A Lemieux Decomposition is used to determine what the distribution of teacher wages would look like if teachers were remunerated according to the same structure as non-teachers. It is found that the teaching profession is relatively unattractive to individuals at the top end of the skills distribution in the South African labour market.