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The Political Economy of Public Sector Absence: Experimental Evidence from Pakistan

Author

Listed:
  • Callen, Michael
  • Gulzar, Saad
  • Hasanain, Ali
  • Khan, Muhammad Yasir

Abstract

This paper presents evidence that one cause of absenteeism in the public sector is that government jobs are handed out as patronage. First, politicians routinely interfere when bureaucrats sanction absent doctors, and doctors are more absent in uncompetitive constituencies and when connected to politicians. Next, we find that the effects of two experimental interventions to address absence are attenuated in uncompetitive constituencies and for connected doctors. The first is a smartphone monitoring technology that nearly doubles inspection rates, and the second, representing the first experiment on the effects of providing data to policymakers, channels real time information on doctor absence.

Suggested Citation

  • Callen, Michael & Gulzar, Saad & Hasanain, Ali & Khan, Muhammad Yasir, 2016. "The Political Economy of Public Sector Absence: Experimental Evidence from Pakistan," CEPR Discussion Papers 11321, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11321
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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, vol. 20(1), pages 91-116, Winter.
    2. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2016. "The Long-Run Effects of the Scramble for Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(7), pages 1802-1848, July.
    3. Esther Duflo & Rema Hanna & Stephen P. Ryan, 2012. "Incentives Work: Getting Teachers to Come to School," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1241-1278, June.
    4. Imran Rasul & Daniel Rogger, 2013. "Management of Bureaucrats and Public Service Delivery: Evidence from the Nigerian Civil Service," STICERD - Public Economics Programme Discussion Papers 20, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    5. Michael Callen & Saad Gulzar & Ali Hasanain & Yasir Khan & Arman Rezaee, 2015. "Personalities and Public Sector Performance: Evidence from a Health Experiment in Pakistan," NBER Working Papers 21180, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Karthik Muralidharan & Paul Niehaus & Sandip Sukhtankar, 2016. "Building State Capacity: Evidence from Biometric Smartcards in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(10), pages 2895-2929, October.
    7. Joppe de Ree & Karthik Muralidharan & Menno Pradhan & Halsey Rogers, 2015. "Double for Nothing? Experimental Evidence on the Impact of an Unconditional Teacher Salary Increase on Student Performance in Indonesia," NBER Working Papers 21806, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Nicholas Bloom & Carol Propper & Stephan Seiler & John Van Reenen, 2015. "The Impact of Competition on Management Quality: Evidence from Public Hospitals," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(2), pages 457-489.
    9. repec:cup:apsrev:v:50:y:1956:i:04:p:1046-1056_06 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Ashraf, Nava & Bandiera, Oriana & Jack, B. Kelsey, 2014. "No margin, no mission? A field experiment on incentives for public service delivery," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 1-17.
    11. Wade, Robert, 1985. "The market for public office: Why the Indian state is not better at development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 467-497, April.
    12. James Q. Wilson, 1961. "The Economy of Patronage," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 69, pages 369-369.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dhaliwal, Iqbal & Hanna, Rema, 2017. "The devil is in the details: The successes and limitations of bureaucratic reform in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 1-21.
    2. Chicoine, Luke & Guzman, Juan Carlos, 2017. "Increasing Rural Health Clinic Utilization with SMS Updates: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Uganda," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 419-430.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Absence; Corruption; Data in Policymaking; Information Communication Technology; patronage; Political Competition; Political Connections;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption

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