In the News: A Very Bad Bargain



By 01/18/2018

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Does collective bargaining by teachers help or hurt students? An editorial in the Wall Street Journal refers readers to a recent study that tries to answer this question.

In “A Bad Bargain: How teacher collective bargaining affects students’ employment and earnings later in life,” the professors conclude: “We find strong evidence that teacher collective bargaining has a negative effect on students’ earnings as adults.” 

The study, by Michael F. Lovenheim and Alexander Willén, was published in the Winter 2016 issue of EdNext. The authors explain:

In this study, we present the first evidence on how laws that support teacher collective bargaining affect students’ employment and earnings in adulthood. We do so by first examining how the outcomes of students educated in a given state changed after the state enacted a duty-to-bargain law, and then comparing those changes to what happened over the same time period in states that did not change their collective-bargaining policies.

We find no clear effects of collective-bargaining laws on how much schooling students ultimately complete. But our results show that laws requiring school districts to engage in collective bargaining with teachers unions lead students to be less successful in the labor market in adulthood. Students who spent all 12 years of grade school in a state with a duty-to-bargain law earned an average of $795 less per year and worked half an hour less per week as adults than students who were not exposed to collective-bargaining laws. They are 0.9 percentage points less likely to be employed and 0.8 percentage points less likely to be in the labor force. And those with jobs tend to work in lower-skilled occupations.

— Education Next




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