Pension Reform Would Be Good for Teachers

Robert Costrell and Michael Podgursky talk with Education Next about ways to eliminate the peculiar incentives built into current teacher pension systems.

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Economists Bob Costrell of the University of Arkansas and Mike Podgursky of the University of Missouri are the authors of “Golden Handcuffs,” an article in the Winter 2010 issue of Education Next that looks at the high price paid in pension wealth by teachers who change jobs.

As Bob and Mike note in their article, many states are being forced to reevaluate their teacher pension plans. The unfunded liabilities of these plans are in the billions. But while most analysts are focused on the enormous cost of teacher pensions and their long-term sustainability, Bob and Mike have been looking at another aspect of teacher pensions: the perverse incentives embedded in these plans that interfere with the goal of attracting and retaining outstanding teachers. In this podcast, they talk about the findings of their most recent study, which examines the way that teacher pension systems concentrate benefits on those teachers who spend their entire careers in a single state, and punish teachers who are more mobile.

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