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Teacher pay in Africa: Evidence from 15 countries

David K. Evans, Fei Yuan and Deon Filmer

World Development, 2022, vol. 155, issue C

Abstract: Pay levels for public sector workers—and especially teachers—are a constant source of controversy. In many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, protests and strikes suggest that pay is low, while comparisons to average national income per capita suggest that it is high. This study presents data on teacher earnings from 15 African countries. The results suggest that in several (seven) countries, teachers’ monthly earnings are lower than other formal sector workers with comparable levels of education and experience. However, in all of those countries, teachers report working significantly fewer hours than other workers, such that hourly earnings are significantly lower for teachers in only one country. The study documents non-pecuniary benefits (such as medical insurance or a pension) for teachers relative to other workers: of the 13 country surveys that report non-pecuniary benefits, teachers are more likely to receive at least one benefit than other workers in 11. Teachers who report fewer hours are no more likely to report holding a second job, although teachers overall are nearly two times more likely to hold a second job than other workers. The study documents other characteristics of the teacher labor force across countries—e.g., mostly male but less so than other workers, mostly employed by the public sector. The study also documents within-country variation across types of teacher contracts—e.g., teachers on fixed term contracts make about 70 percent of teachers on permanent contracts, with wide variation across countries. The large heterogeneity in teacher earnings premia is not easily explained by observed characteristics of the countries’ economies or education systems. Nonetheless, after taking hours and non-pecuniary benefits into account, we find no evidence that teachers are systematically underpaid in this sample of countries.

Keywords: Education; Teachers; Public sector; Teacher earnings (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I20 I25 J31 O12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2022.105893

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