The Price of the Calling: Exploring Clergy Compensation Using Current Population Survey Data

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Previous research shows that clergy make less money than others with similar levels of education. We use Current Population Survey data to offer five contributions to knowledge about clergy compensation. First, we document and take into account the shift in clergy compensation from the provision of free housing to the payment of housing allowances. Second, although the clergy earnings disadvantage appears to have increased over the last 40 years relative to their educational peers, the picture changes when we exclude the highest income occupations. Clergy have lost ground to doctors, lawyers, and investment bankers, but they have gained ground relative to everyone else. Third, these gains are largely because of decline in the number of hours clergy report working. Fourth, we show that clergy working in churches earn less than clergy working elsewhere. Fifth, we document immediate wage penalties for those who become clergy and, among clergy, for those who begin to work in congregations. Overall, although clergy still earn less than comparable workers, their position has improved in recent decades relative to all but the highest earning occupations.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Schleifer, C; Chaves, M

Published Date

  • March 1, 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 55 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 130 - 152

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1468-5906

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0021-8294

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/jssr.12254

Citation Source

  • Scopus