New Evidence on Teacher Labor Supply

Mimi Engel, Brian Jacob

Abstract

Recent evidence on the large variance in teacher effectiveness has spurred renewed interest in teacher labor market policies. A substantial body of prior research documents that more highly qualified teachers tend to work in more advantaged schools, although this literature cannot determine the relative importance of supply versus demand factors in generating this equilibrium outcome. To isolate the importance of teacher labor supply, we attended three large teacher job fairs in Chicago during the summer of 2006 and collected detailed information on the specific schools at which teachers interviewed. We document a substantial variation in the number of applicants per school, with some schools having fewer than five applicants and others schools having over 300 applicants, even after controlling for the number and type of positions advertised at the school. We show that the demographic characteristics of schools strongly predict the number of applicants to the school in the expected direction. Interestingly, the geographic location of the school is an extremely strong predictor of applications, even after controlling for a host of observable school and neighborhood characteristics.

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