Pension Problems: How Gender and Race Complicate Illinois’ Teacher Retirement Woes

Max Marchitello
Publication Date: 
March 8, 2018

Considering that school district salaries are typically determined by a single districtwide salary schedule, in theory education should be a field without gender- or race-based pay gaps. Unfortunately, that is not the case. And to make matters worse, inequities in salaries translate to large disparities in retirement benefits.

In our new report, “Pension Problems: How Gender and Race Complicate Illinois’ Teacher Retirement Woes,” we analyze salary data on nearly every educator in the state of Illinois to identify inequities in salary and retirement benefits. Our findings show that compared with men, women earn lower salaries and less valuable pensions at every experience level. In fact, the typical female educator needs to work 15 years to earn the same salary a man earns in his tenth year.

Looking at the education profession more broadly, we found significant gender-based disparities within races and ethnicities. Among all Hispanic educators, women earn $4,000 less than men. Interestingly, the disparity is far worse for white women educators, who earn almost $10,000 less than their white male counterparts.

The gender- and race-based differences in salaries translate to significant disparities in estimated retirement wealth. Based on their salaries and years of experience, the average female educator in Illinois qualifies for an annual pension that is worth $3,800 less than what is earned by men. As with salaries, these gaps persist year after year. There are even larger pension disparities by race and within races by gender. Simply put, women are paid less in salaries and as a result earn less valuable retirement benefits. This means their overall compensation is even lower than suggested by salaries alone.

Download the full report below.