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Missing in Action: Teacher and Health Worker Absence in Developing Countries

  • Nazmul Chaudhury
  • Jeffrey Hammer
  • Michael Kremer
  • Karthik Muralidharan
  • F. Halsey Rogers

In this paper, we report results from surveys in which enumerators made unannounced visits to primary schools and health clinics in Bangladesh, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Peru and Uganda and recorded whether they found teachers and health workers in the facilities. Averaging across the countries, about 19 percent of teachers and 35 percent of health workers were absent. The survey focused on whether providers were present in their facilities, but since many providers who were at their facilities were not working, even these figures may present too favorable a picture. For example, in India, one-quarter of government primary school teachers were absent from school, but only about one-half of the teachers were actually teaching when enumerators arrived at the schools. We will provide background on education and health care systems in developing; analyze the high absence rates across sectors and countries; investigate the correlates, efficiency, and political economy of teacher and health worker absence; and consider implications for policy.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 20 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
Pages: 91-116

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:20:y:2006:i:1:p:91-116
Note: DOI: 10.1257/089533006776526058
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  1. Pritchett, Lant & Filmer,Deon, 1997. "What educational production functions really show : a positive theory of education spending," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1795, The World Bank.
  2. Michael Kremer & Nazmul Chaudhury & F. Halsey Rogers & Karthik Muralidharan & Jeffrey Hammer, 2005. "Teacher Absence in India: A Snapshot," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 658-667, 04/05.
  3. Filmer, Deon & Hammer, Jeffrey S & Pritchett, Lant H, 2000. "Weak Links in the Chain: A Diagnosis of Health Policy in Poor Countries," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 15(2), pages 199-224, August.
  4. Stefan Dercon, 2004. "Teacher Shocks and Student Learning: Evidence from Zambia," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2004-26, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  5. 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.
  6. 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, vol. 26(1), pages 72-105.
  7. King, Elizabeth M. & Orazem, Peter & Paterno, Elizabeth M., 2008. "Promotion with and Without Learning: Effects on Student Enrollment and Dropout Behavior," Staff General Research Papers 12968, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  8. Nazmul Chaudhury & Jeffrey S. Hammer, 2004. "Ghost Doctors: Absenteeism in Rural Bangladeshi Health Facilities," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 18(3), pages 423-441.
  9. Deon Filmer & Jeffrey S. Hammer & Lant H. Pritchett, 2002. "Weak Links in the Chain II: A Prescription for Health Policy in Poor Countries," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 17(1), pages 47-66.
  10. Barbara Bruns & Alain Mingat & Ramahatra Rakotomalala, 2003. "Achieving Universal Primary Education by 2015 : A Chance for Every Child," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15121.
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