Are Teachers Overpaid In The US?, by Barkley Rosser: An ongoing meme of those supporting Governor Walker's efforts to crush public unions in Wisconsin is the repeated claims that public workers are overpaid. There is plenty of evidence that this is not so, even with their greater benefits, but I think another piece of evidence may be useful, a cross-country comparison of teacher salaries. This is important given that at the state and local levels, teachers are the most numerous of public workers, and it is hard to compare them with private sector equivalents, who are not that numerous at the K-12 level.
So, according to OECD data reported by the New York Times for 2007 at http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/teacher-pay-around-the-world , out of 33 OECD countries, the US is #26 in pay per GDP for primary school teachers with 15 years of experience. No, we are not overpaying our teachers, not at all.
OTOH, according to http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/15/how-much-do-doctors-in-other-countries-make , out of 18 countries listed for 2007, US general practitioners are #1 in pay per GDP. Big surprise.
While teachers are more likely to be publicly paid in all of these countries, doctors get a higher prooportion of their pay privately in the US than in these other countries, although a substantial proportion is public. Yet, as has been widely reported, life expectancy and infant mortality rates in the US are way below those of other high income countries. We overpay our doctors while underpaying our teachers, and more generally there is no reason to believe that publicly paid teachers are somehow ripping off their fellow citizens.