why do tube drivers earn so much

So how hard do London's tube drivers really have it? I've previously written about how a newly-qualified, enjoys 43 days of annual leave and only works 36 hours a week, which is a markedly better starting package overall than soldiers, police officers or nurses get. The deal proposed by London Underground would have pushed a tube driver's starting salary safely above the бе50,000 threshold, with a бе500 launch payment to all staff on Night Tube lines. But some jobs pay well for working long, potentially anti-social hours, although tube unions are up in arms about the potential risks the Night Tube has for "work-life balance". However, taking into account how long a tube driver can expect to work each week, they seem to be much better paid per hour than many of their colleagues in other public sector professions. How much a newly-qualified tube driver makes per hour, compared to other careers
As this chart shows, a newly-qualified tube driver gets бе26. 53 per hour worked, while a nurse or policeman would start on around бе11 per hour for working 37 and 40 hours a week respectively. A firefighter would make much less, at while teachers do much worse. A secondary school teacher makes just бе7. 60 for every one of the they can expect to work.


Tube drivers' union leaders may dress up their concerns with talk of " s", but the figures show they are well paid for their work. As London's tube system grinds to a halt due to its latest bout of industrial action, disgruntled tube drivers will be inconveniencing many Londoners who earn much less per hour than them. A British reader posted the following query on my UK publisher s web site: Why do tube drivers get paid so much more than bus drivers? An American economist trying to field questions about markets in the UK operates at an obvious handicap. Market outcomes hinge on myriad facts on the ground, and having never lived in England, I ll often be completely ignorant of many of the most relevant ones. But since the spirit of the economic naturalist exercise is to come up with plausible hypotheses suitable for further testing, I ll forge ahead, taking inspiration from the retired American tennis legend Jimmy Connors. If Connors had a glaring weakness, it was his serve. Even his first serve would be considered a weak second serve by the standards of today s men s game. Connors knew it wasn t an offensive weapon, so he just rolled it in, hoping that good things would happen once the point got under way.


And that strategy worked well enough. I ll try a similar one here. I have no idea why tube operators earn more than bus drivers. But the general question of why some jobs pay better than others is one that economists have studied extensively. So I ll make a few general observations about some of the most important sources of wage differentials and invite others to share their views. The price of labor, like the price any good or service, is determined by the interplay of supply and demand. On the demand side, the employer s rule of thumb is to hire an additional worker if that worker will generate at least enough extra revenue to cover his salary. On the supply side, the worker must decide whether accepting a particular job at a given wage would be at least as attractive as any other available alternative, including the option of not working at all. These general observations suggest several possible explanations for wage differentials between seemingly similar jobs. One is that potential employees may regard working conditions as less attractive in one job than the other. In that case, the first job would have to pay more or else no one would choose it. For example, when all other relevant factors are equal, risky jobs tend to pay more than safe ones.


But the higher wage for tube operators is unlikely to reflect compensation for risk, since driving a bus is actually much more risky. Many studies, for example, document the stress-related health problems that are common among bus drivers whose routes entail heavy urban traffic. If the observed wage differential is rooted in some difference in working conditions, a more promising candidate might be that jobs in dark underground spaces are considered generally less attractive than those that can be performed in broad daylight. Another possibility is that for every job opening in each category, there are fewer potential candidates qualified to be tube operators than there are to be bus drivers. This explanation also sounds promising, since most people who can drive a car could be trained to drive a bus relatively quickly. A final possibility I ll mention is that wages would tend to be higher for tube operators if for some reason they were represented by a stronger union. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about which, if any, of these possibilities seems most promising. Robert Frank s latest book, was published last month.

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