The Value of Smarter Teachers: International Evidence on Teacher Cognitive Skills and Student Performance

Eric A. Hanushek, Marc Piopiunik, Simon Wiederhold

NBER Working Paper No. 20727
Issued in December 2014
NBER Program(s):   CH   ED   LS

International differences in teacher quality are commonly hypothesized to be a key determinant of the large international student performance gaps, but lack of consistent quality measures has precluded testing this. Using unique assessment data, we construct country-level measures of teacher cognitive skills. We find substantial differences in teacher cognitive skills across countries, and these are strongly related to student performance. Results are supported by fixed-effects estimation exploiting within-country between-subject variation in teacher skills. Observed country variations in teacher cognitive skills are significantly related to differences in women’s access to high-skilled occupations outside teaching and to salary premiums for teachers.

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This paper was revised on March 31, 2016

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20727

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