How Much Time Do Teachers Spend Working? Evidence from the American Time Use Survey.

30 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2016

See all articles by Jason Richwine

Jason Richwine


Andrew G. Biggs

American Enterprise Institute

Date Written: September 11, 2013


One of the most challenging issues in assessing teacher compensation is determining how much time teachers spend working compared to other professionals. Previous attempts to answer this question have used data that are either unreliable, not generalizable to other professions, or both. We use the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), a collection of detailed ― time diary data from a subset of the Current Population Survey. The ATUS offers the opportunity for a much more accurate and objective comparison of teacher and non-teacher work hours on both a weekly and yearly basis, helping account for thorny issues such as the extent of evening and weekend hours and the length of summer breaks.

Based on our main specification, teachers work roughly two fewer hours than other professionals during a typical workweek and about 94 percent as many hours as other professionals over the course of a school year. Our analysis for the full calendar year (including the summer) is less precise, but teachers appear to work at most 83 percent as many hours over the full calendar year as other professionals. Implications for pay comparability studies are discussed.

Keywords: teacher compensation, time use, work year

JEL Classification: H55; H75; H83; I22; J26; J32; J33; J38; J45; J58

Suggested Citation

Richwine, Jason and Biggs, Andrew G., How Much Time Do Teachers Spend Working? Evidence from the American Time Use Survey. (September 11, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Andrew G. Biggs

American Enterprise Institute ( email )

1150 17th Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
United States
202-862-5841 (Phone)


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