Despite the prevailing belief that public school teachers are underpaid, people who go into teaching make more than they would in other lines of work, according to a new study by Heritage Foundation policy analyst Jason Richwine and American Enterprise Institute (AEI) scholar Andrew Biggs.

The study, co-published by Heritage and AEI in November, found that “workers who switch from non-teaching jobs to teaching jobs receive a wage increase of roughly 9 percent. Teachers who change to non-teaching jobs, on the other hand, see their wages decrease by roughly 3 percent.” As Richwine and Biggs note, “this is the opposite of what one would expect if teachers were underpaid.”

And that’s just wages. When you include benefits, the gap is wider. Adding the extras enjoyed by public school teachers—such as pensions, retiree health benefits, and job security—produces a total compensation 52 percent higher than market levels for similarly skilled workers in the private sector. The study estimates that the gap costs taxpayers about $120 billion a year.