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Addressing Absence

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  • Abhijit Banerjee
  • Esther Duflo

Abstract

Absent providers are a major problem both for public health facilities and primary schools in many developing countries. For example, in India, absence rates for teachers are over 24 percent, and for health providers they are over 40 percent. This paper presents evidence on a number of innovative strategies to reduce absenteeism in government- and nongovernmental organization-run schools and health facilities. These strategies were implemented in Kenya and India over the past few years and have been evaluated using the randomized evaluation methodology. The strategies involved alternative levers to fight absence. Some tried to improve incentives for providers, either through rewards and punishments implemented by external monitors, or through facilitating a more active involvement of those who expect to benefit from the service. Others are based on the idea that the providers are discouraged by the lack of interest among the potential beneficiaries in what they are being offered; these strategies aim at increasing the demand for the services as a way of putting more pressure on the providers. The results of these efforts, taken together, shed light not only on ways to address the problem of absence in the public sector, but also on the underlying reasons for this phenomenon.

Suggested Citation

  • Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2006. "Addressing Absence," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 117-132, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:20:y:2006:i:1:p:117-132
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/089533006776526139
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/089533006776526139
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Esther Duflo & Rema Hanna, 2005. "Monitoring Works: Getting Teachers to Come to School," Working Papers id:301, eSocialSciences.
    2. Abhijit Banerjee & Angus Deaton & Esther Duflo, 2004. "Wealth, Health, and Health Services in Rural Rajasthan," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 326-330, May.
    3. Michael Kremer & Edward Miguel, 2004. "The Illusion of Sustainability," NBER Working Papers 10324, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Paul Glewwe & Nauman Ilias & Michael Kremer, 2010. "Teacher Incentives," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 205-227, July.
    5. Jimenez, Emmanuel & Sawada, Yasuyuki, 1999. "Do Community-Managed Schools Work? An Evaluation of El Salvador's EDUCO Program," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(3), pages 415-441, September.
    6. Michael Kremer & Edward Miguel, 2007. "The Illusion of Sustainability," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1007-1065.
    7. Abhijit Banerjee & Angus Deaton & Esther Duflo, 2004. "Health care delivery in rural rajasthan," Framed Field Experiments 00120, The Field Experiments Website.
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