Panel Paper: The Effect of Teacher Strikes on Parental Labor Market Behavior

Saturday, November 10, 2018
8209 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Alexander L.P. Willén, Norwegian School of Economics and David Jaume, Cornell University

Teacher industrial action is a highly debated feature of education systems across the globe due to its potential to adversely affect student achievement. A neglected but equally important question relates to how teacher strikes affect the labor market behavior of parents. This paper presents the first analysis of the effect of teacher strikes on parental labor market outcomes, exploiting variation in the prevalence of teacher strikes in Argentina within and across provinces over time between individuals with and without children in primary school in a triple difference framework. Using household survey data linked to a new data set on teacher strikes that we create from historic reports on the Argentine economy, we examine both intensive and extensive parental labor market effects of teacher strikes. We find robust evidence that teacher industrial action negatively affects the labor market outcomes of mothers, both on the intensive and the extensive margin. We do not find similar effects for fathers. Examining heterogeneous treatment effects reveals that the negative effects on mothers’ labor market outcomes are driven exclusively by mothers from low-income households. Preliminary evidence suggests that this heterogeneity exists because parents from high-income families are able to move their children to private school and purchase alternative childcare, rather than reducing their own labor force participation, in response to teacher strikes. Parents from low-income families lack the financial resources necessary for pursuing this solution, and therefore have to lower their labor force participation instead. Taken together, our results show that teacher strikes negatively affect the labor market outcomes of mothers, exacerbate wage-and gender inequality across as well as within families, and increase socioeconomic segregation between public and private schools.

Full Paper: