The Decreased Popularity of the Teaching Sector in the 1970s

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In the 1970s, the proportion of male college freshmen who planned to become teachers dropped from 15% to 3%, and that of female freshman from 45% to 12%. In this paper, I use nationally representative survey data on the career plans of college freshmen to look at the roles played by increased access to fertility controls and the unionization of the teaching sector, in the decline in the popularity of the teaching sector during this period. I find that the overall impact of these factors on men was small and insignificant, whereas early legal access to contraceptives increased women's likelihood of planning to become teachers. Looking at the actual career outcomes of the same cohorts in the census data, I find that access to the pill had a negative impact on the share of men in teaching and positive impact on the share of women. I use information on high school grades and college selectivity in the freshmen surveys to separate students by academic ability in the analysis. I find that unionization had a negative impact on plans to become teachers among high-ability men and low-ability women. Increased access to the pill had a negative impact on the share of low-ability men who planned to teach and a positive impact on the share among low- and medium-ability women.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101948
JournalEconomics of Education Review
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Published online: 9. January 2020


  • Ability
  • Career plans
  • Gender
  • Teachers
  • Unions

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