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Are Teacher Absences Worth Worrying About in the U.S.?

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  • Charles T. Clotfelter
  • Helen F. Ladd
  • Jacob L. Vigdor

Abstract

Using detailed data from North Carolina, we examine the frequency, incidence, and consequences of teacher absences in public schools, as well as the impact of an absence disincentive policy. The incidence of teacher absences is regressive: schools in the poorest quartile averaged almost one extra sick day per teacher than schools in the highest income quartile, and schools with persistently high rates of teacher absence were much more likely to serve low-income than high-income students. In regression models incorporating teacher fixed effects, absences are associated with lower student achievement in elementary grades. Finally, we present evidence that the demand for discretionary absences is price-elastic. Our estimates suggest that a policy intervention that simultaneously raised teacher base salaries and broadened financial penalties for absences could both raise teachers' expected income and lower districts' expected costs.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13648.

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Date of creation: Nov 2007
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Publication status: published as Education Finance and Policy Spring 2009, Vol. 4, No. 2, Pages 115-149 Posted Online April 15, 2009. (doi:10.1162/edfp.2009.4.2.115)
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13648

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  1. Esther Duflo & Rema Hanna, 2005. "Monitoring Works: Getting Teachers to Come to School," Working Papers, eSocialSciences id:301, eSocialSciences.
  2. Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2006. "Addressing Absence," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 117-132, Winter.
  3. Ichino, Andrea & Moretti, Enrico, 2006. "Biological Gender Differences, Absenteeism and the Earning Gap," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 5785, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Clotfelter, Charles & Glennie, Elizabeth & Ladd, Helen & Vigdor, Jacob, 2008. "Would higher salaries keep teachers in high-poverty schools? Evidence from a policy intervention in North Carolina," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1352-1370, June.
  5. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Randy A. Ehrenberg & Daniel I. Rees & REric L. Ehrenberg, 1991. "School District Leave Policies, Teacher Absenteeism, and Student Achievement," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(1), pages 72-105.
  6. Paul Glewwe & Nauman Ilias & Michael Kremer, 2010. "Teacher Incentives," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 205-27, July.
  7. Alan Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," Working Papers, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section. 758, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. Lindeboom, Maarten & Kerkhofs, Marcel, 1998. "Multi-state models for clustered duration data: an application to workplace effects on individual sickness absenteeism," Serie Research Memoranda, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics 0008, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
  9. Bradley, Steve & Green, Colin & Leeves, Gareth, 2007. "Worker absence and shirking: Evidence from matched teacher-school data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 319-334, June.
  10. Nazmul Chaudhury & Jeffrey Hammer & Michael Kremer & Karthik Muralidharan & F. Halsey Rogers, 2006. "Missing in Action: Teacher and Health Worker Absence in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 91-116, Winter.
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Cited by:
  1. Gianna Barbieri & Piero Cipollone & Paolo Sestito, 2008. "Labour market for teachers: Demographic characteristics and allocative mechanisms," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers), Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area 672, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  2. Randall Reback, 2009. "Schools’ Mental Health Services and Young Children’s Emotions, Behavior, and Learning," Working Papers, Barnard College, Department of Economics 0904, Barnard College, Department of Economics.
  3. Priscilla Tavares & Rafael Camelo & Paula Kasmirski, 2009. "A falta faz falta? Um estudo sobre o absenteísmo dos professores da rede estadual paulista de ensino e seus efeitos sobre o desempenho escolar," Working Papers, Universidade de São Paulo, Faculdade de Economia, Administração e Contabilidade de Ribeirão Preto 09_08, Universidade de São Paulo, Faculdade de Economia, Administração e Contabilidade de Ribeirão Preto.
  4. Stephanie Riegg Cellini & Fernando Ferreira & Jesse Rothstein, 2008. "The Value of School Facilities: Evidence from a Dynamic Regression Discontinuity Design," Working Papers, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies. 1101, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  5. Marte Rønning, 2012. "The effect of working conditions on teachers’sickness absence," Discussion Papers, Research Department of Statistics Norway 684, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
  6. Michael Baker, 2013. "Industrial actions in schools: strikes and student achievement," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 46(3), pages 1014-1036, August.
  7. Rogers, F. Halsey & Vegas, Emiliana, 2009. "No more cutting class ? reducing teacher absence and providing incentives for performance," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 4847, The World Bank.

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