Monitoring Works: Getting Teachers to Come to School
This paper combines a randomized experiment and a structural model to test whether monitoring and financial incentives can reduce teacher absence and increase learning. In 57 schools in India, randomly chosen out of 113, a teacher’s daily attendance was verified through photographs with time and date stamps, and his salary was made a non-linear function of his attendance. The teacher absence rate changed from 42 percent in the comparison schools to 21 percent in the treatment schools. To separate the effects of the monitoring and the financial incentives, we estimate a structural dynamic labour supply model that allows for heterogeneity in preferences and auto-correlation of external shocks. The teacher response was almost entirely due to the financial incentives. The estimated elasticity of labour with respect to the incentive is 0.306. Our model accurately predicts teacher attendance in two out-of-sample tests on the comparison group and a treatment group that received different financial incentives. The program improved child learning: test scores in the treatment schools were 0.17 standard deviations higher than in the comparison schools.
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