Evidence suggests the average ability of teachers to have progressively declined in developed countries over the last decades. Many explanations have been proposed, all suggesting the idea of a lower attractiveness of teaching professions (both in monetary and non monetary terms) with respect to feasible alternative working opportunities. This should apply to women at least, because of the great expansion of job opportunities which interested female cohorts in the second half of the century. However, the long lasting problem of getting credible ability measures has often driven partial results. Here two UK population samples of individuals born in different years are considered. Individuals were exposed to ability tests at early stages of their life, so that subsequent education paths are exogenous to test scores. Transformation in percentiles allows to get comparable measures of ability, and distributions for those who undertook the teaching career are obtained in the two samples. Consistently with previous literature, using difference-in-difference, we find evidence of teachers quality decline. A gender based analysis is performed in order to address gender differences and specific questions. Data on salaries, ditributions across jobs and social mobility are finally used in order to find possible explanations. Further questions arise.
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