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ERIC Number: ED537325
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Feb-9
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 23
Do Public School Teachers "Really" Receive Lavish Benefits? Richwine and Biggs' Recent Report Doesn't Make the Grade. EPI Issue Brief #324
Morrissey, Monique
Economic Policy Institute
When most people think of the perks of teaching, an image that comes to mind is a shiny apple presented by a gap-toothed pupil. A recent paper by Jason Richwine of the Heritage Foundation and Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute claims that public school teachers enjoy lavish benefits that are more valuable than their base pay and twice as generous as those of private-sector workers (Richwine and Biggs 2011). According to Richwine and Biggs, this makes teachers' total compensation 52 percent higher than fair-market levels and amounts to $120 billion "overcharged" to taxpayers each year. This finding, and previous research by the same authors (Biggs and Richwine 2011), are at odds with a large body of research showing that public school teachers and other government workers have total compensation that is lower--or at least no higher--than that of comparable private-sector workers. How do Richwine and Biggs get such different results? Their research comparing public- and private-sector pay has been critiqued elsewhere, so this brief will address the authors' specific case against school teachers, focusing on benefits. This brief will show that, among other things, Richwine and Biggs: (1) compare teachers with private-sector workers with much lower educational attainment; (2) selectively alternate between the cost of benefits to employers and the value to workers, and inappropriately equate the latter with the often much higher cost to individuals of obtaining equivalent benefits; (3) triple the cost of teacher pensions by assuming a very low rate of return on pension fund assets, or by assuming a very high cost of guaranteeing these benefits; (4) inflate the cost of retiree health benefits and seasonal leave; and (5) place an arbitrary dollar figure on the value of job security to workers, while ignoring the advantage to employers of employee retention. (Contains 1 table and 3 endnotes.)
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Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Economic Policy Institute