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How do we compare teacher salaries?

    Comparing apples with apples is sometimes not so easy. It becomes a challenge when, for example, when trying to compare the salaries of teachers around the world and you find two sets of information on the same website! Other major differences are the cost of living in countries, the GDP of countries and their budgets, the educational system, the general culture towards education, and respect for the role of teachers.

    Teachers in different countries do the same job, but salaries vary considerably.

    Where to find comparable information on salaries

    Information on teacher salaries is sometimes difficult to obtain, especially in countries where English is not an official language. Information varies because there is such a large number of variables, for instance: qualifications, experience, subject expertise, the school district, and the benefits, such as a housing stipend, an annual 13th cheque, or similar bonuses. This is a typical problem when requesting information directly from teachers, as done by Glassdoor.com for example.

    Note that information on one of the major websites regarding salaries, Salaryexplorer.com, differs because they provide two sets of information – the salaries of teachers only and then also salaries for all persons working in Education, inclusive of universities and the national or a state’s Department of Education.  

    For example, in the case of Peru, when taking the salaries of teachers only, then the average is 5,370 PEN (1,296 USD) per month, but when looking at all of Education, when the high-end earners at universities and in management are included, the average changes significantly to 8,000 PEN ($2,062).

    The average salary of TEACHERS ONLY in Peru, as an example.
    The average salary of persons in EDUCATION in Peru, as an example.

    How to compare the cost of living

    When looking at salaries in different countries, it is important to realize that we must compare apples with apples, we must look at numbers in context. Salaries in big cities such as New York, London, Tokyo, Beijing, and Berlin can be expected to be higher to compensate for the higher cost of living. But who knows that the most expensive place to teach could be Hamilton on tropical Bermuda?

    Day-to-day expenses like housing, food, gas, and food vary greatly from city to city. Zurich, Switzerland is roughly 30% more expensive than New York City, but according to Numbeo—the world’s largest database of user-contributed data on cities and countries – the Swiss consumers in Zurich have 30% more purchasing power.

    How does the cost of living in New York compare globally?

    Using New York City then as a benchmark for comparison, the following is a sample of the comparative cost of living in 578 cities. If a city has a cost-of-living index of 121, it implies that the day-to-day expenses in that city are then 21% higher than New York’s, on average.  

    Most Expensive cities (examples):

    Hamilton, Bermuda 149.0; Zurich, Switzerland, 131.2; Basel, Switzerland 130.9; Beirut, Lebanon 120.5; Geneva, Switzerland 114.1; New York, NY, United States 100.0; Trondheim, Norway, 99.4; Reykjavik, Iceland 97.6; Santa Barbara, CA, United States 95.0; Tel Aviv, Israel, 94.5.

    Mid-range cities (examples):

    In the mid-range, we find cities such as:

    London, United Kingdom, 85.6; Tokyo, Japan, 85.6; Boston MA,  United States, 85.5; Nice, France 84.6; Paris, France, 84.4; Singapore 84.0; Washington DC, United States 83.7; Sydney, Australia 83.2; Amsterdam, Netherlands, 80.8; Hong Kong, China 80.7; Dublin, Ireland, 79.1; Stockholm, Sweden, 78.9; Seoul, South Korea, 78.7; Miami FL, United States, 78.0; Munich, Germany 77.5; Innsbruck, Austria, 77.3; Perth, Australia, 77.3; Antwerp, Belgium, 71.3; Tampere, Finland, 71.2; Marseille, France, 71.1; Rome, Italy, 71.0; Berlin, Germany, 68.9; Barcelona, Spain, 61.2; Madrid, Spain, 59.0; Havana, Cuba, 55.9; Shanghai, China, 53.9; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 53.9; Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 50.1; Zagreb, Croatia, 49.9; Beijing, China, 49.5; Budapest, Hungary, 46.1; Harare, Zimbabwe, 45.7; Leiria, Portugal, 45.7; Santiago, Chile, 45.6; San Salvador, 45.3; Caracas, Venezuela, 45.3; Johannesburg, South Africa, 44.9.

    Cheapest cities (examples):

    And at the lowest end, we find cities such as:

    Baku, Azerbaijan 31.6; Tehran, Iran, 31.5; Istanbul, Turkey 31.1; Tbilisi, Georgia 31.0; Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 30.8; Asuncion, Paraguay 30.6; Astana, Kazakhstan 30.3; Tunis, Tunisia 29.9; Kathmandu, Nepal 29.9; Algiers, Algeria, 29.8; Lviv, Ukraine 29.7; Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 29.4; Mumbai, India, 29.3; Islamabad, Pakistan, 21.5; Kabul, Afghanistan, 21.4; Karachi, Pakistan, 20.8; Peshawar, Pakistan, 18.6.

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