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Stanford-led study finds link between teachers’ financial anxiety and job performance, including attendance and turnover

classroom photo from the perspective of a student. In the foreground are the backs of other teenage students' heads, and the teacher can be seen in the background.
Photo: Skynesher / Getty Images
Feb 7 2020
Fellow, Research, Stanford

As the cost of living surges in a number of U.S. cities, what happens to schools when teachers’ salaries don’t keep pace?

A Stanford-led study finds that even in an area where teachers earn well above the national average, these professionals are feeling the squeeze—and their financial anxiety is linked to measures of job performance that may have significant consequences for the students they teach.

Using survey data from more than 2,000 teachers at San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), researchers found that the teachers experienced greater economic stress than U.S. workers more generally. What’s more, the teachers’ level of financial anxiety predicted behaviors such as attendance and their likelihood to leave the job.

“Financial anxiety has a real impact on teachers’ attitudes and behavior,” said Elise Dizon-Ross, a doctoral candidate at Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE) and lead author of the study. “It’s not just a fuzzy feeling—it’s a real experience with serious implications for schools.”

Lead author Elise Dizon-Ross is a 2014 Stanford Graduate Fellow

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