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Teacher Shortage and Pensions

Research demonstrates that providing pensions helps with educator retention.
Published: June 22, 2020

According to the Department of Education, the number of students pursuing degrees in education has dropped by 42% since 2009-2010. The Learning Policy Institute estimates we may be facing a nationwide teacher shortage of more than 100,000 teachers. 

Some claim that teacher pensions are part of the problem of attracting people to the profession, and retaining them once they are here. This is far from the truth. Extensive research shows: 

  • Pensions successfully attract people to education as a profession, retain teachers, and provide solid retirement security. 
  • A shift to defined-contribution plans would not benefit educators on the whole and would exacerbate the teacher turnover and teacher shortage problems.
  • Most teachers accumulate significant numbers of years of service, and earn a healthy return on contributions coupled with a level of retirement security very few people using defined contribution plans achieve. 
  • Young workers do not generally accrue significant retirement savings no matter their profession. Educators who leave the profession after only a few years are not at a retirement savings disadvantage. 
  • Common methods of cutting the costs of pensions (like increasing the retirement age, reducing monthly benefits, and requiring employees to contribute more) have led to challenges in recruiting and retaining new employees.

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