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OECD: Portuguese teachers earn 30% more than their skilled worker peers

Published on 13/09/2019

Portugal has been reported to be one of the few countries where teachers earn more than other university graduates. Younger teachers even receive 45-48% more than their well-educated peers.

Portugal is one of the three countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) where teachers – whatever year they teach – receive on average more than other Portuguese workers who have also graduated from higher education.

According to the “Education at a Glance 2019” report, younger teachers (25-34) receive 45-48% more than other Portuguese workers who have also completed higher education.

“Portugal is one of the few OECD countries where teachers from pre-primary to upper secondary education earn more on average than other tertiary workers,” notes the recently released report. The OECD also indicates that the wage advantage is at least 30% across all education sectors.

According to an OECD’s ratio between teachers’ salaries and the earnings of other workers who have attended higher education, only in Portugal, Latvia and Costa Rica are teachers’ salaries higher than those of other workers with that level of education. This rule is true for whatever grade level these teachers teach, although the pay gap varies according to this factor.

In Germany, teachers’ earnings are in line with other skilled workers, and in other countries the opposite tends to be true: teachers tend to earn less than other highly educated workers. In Slovakia, for example, pre-primary teachers tend to earn 50% less than their peers.

This wage advantage recorded in Portugal is particularly visible amongst teachers aged 25-34, who earn on average 45-48% more than other workers of the same qualifications and age. However, the trend is reversed over the course of a career, turning this advantage into a disadvantage: between 45 and 54, average teachers’ salaries are slightly lower (2 to 7%) than that of their peers.

This is despite the fact that teachers’ salaries increase as their career progresses, that is, teachers tend to see their earnings grow at a slower pace than in other sectors. In the latest version of Education at a Glance report, the OECD also notes that Portugal has one of the most dated teaching institutions, which has often been denounced by trade unions. This has already led the same organization to estimate that one in two teachers will need to be replaced in the next decade.

According to the report, more than 40% of Portuguese teachers from primary to secondary education are 50 or older (on average in the OECD 36% of teachers are in this age group) and only 1% are under 30 (the OECD average is 10%).

The OECD also emphasizes that this increase of teachers’ average age has happened rapidly over the last decade, which is linked to the reduction in the number of pupils in certain areas of the country and consequently to the reformulation of the school network, thus limiting the recruitment of new teachers.