Member Since 2009


Michael Podgursky is Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri – Columbia, where he served as department chair from 1995-2005.  His research focuses on the economics of education.  He has written many articles in the area, with a primary focus on teacher labor markets and teacher compensation.  He serves on the board of editors of Education Finance and Policy, Peabody Journal of Education, and advisory boards for various statistical agencies and research institutes, and is a co-investigator at the Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research at the Urban Institute and the National Center for Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University, two national research centers funded by the Institute on Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education.

Published Articles & Media

Pensions Under Pressure

Charter innovation in teacher retirement benefits

Why Teacher vs. Non-Teacher Pay Comparisons Are Misleading

Pension benefits for public school teachers (and most public employees) are far more generous than for private sector professionals.

Choosing the Right Growth Measure

Methods should compare similar schools and teachers

The School Administrator Payoff from Teacher Pensions

The “stewards” of the system benefit the most

Fixing Teacher Pensions

Is it enough to adjust existing plans?

Yes, We Have No Bananas

In a recent Education Next article we talked about winners and losers in teacher pension systems, and about the huge costs these systems impose on mobile teachers due to the back-loading of benefits. In a letter to the editor written in response to our article, Beth Almeida of the National Institute on Retirement Security takes us to task for describing this phenomenon as “redistribution,” noting that such a practice is illegal. Since we don’t want to get pension and teacher union officials in trouble, we have a modest proposal.

Teacher Retirement Benefits

Even in economically tough times, costs are higher than ever.

Teacher Pension Reform: A Way Out of the Impasse

For more than a decade, debate over reform of public pensions has been in a rut. On one side, some reformers have favored scrapping traditional teacher pension plans in favor of the IRA-type plans received by most private-sector professionals. On the other side, teacher unions, retiree groups, and defined-benefit pension plan professionals fight hard to protect existing plans. Each side has legitimate points.

Golden Handcuffs

Teachers who change jobs or move pay a high price

Making Mountains Out of Molehills? Let the Reader Decide

A recent “Policy Memorandum” from the Economic Policy Institute by EPI researcher Monique Morrissey is sharply critical of our article “Peaks, Cliffs, and Valleys." Morrissey has a number of critiques of our articles, but the main one, as the title suggests, is that our metaphors are inappropriate, and there is nothing at all “peculiar” about the structure of retirement incentives in teacher pensions.

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