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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles T. Clotfelter & Helen F. Ladd & Jacob L. Vigdor, 2007. "Are Teacher Absences Worth Worrying About in the U.S.?," NBER Working Papers 13648, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13648
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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. Alan B. Krueger, 1999. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 497-532.
    3. 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.
    4. Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2006. "Addressing Absence," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 117-132, Winter.
    5. Maarten Lindeboom & Marcel Kerkhofs, 2000. "Multistate Models For Clustered Duration Data - An Application To Workplace Effects On Individual Sickness Absenteeism," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(4), pages 668-684, November.
    6. Andrea Ichino & Enrico Moretti, 2009. "Biological Gender Differences, Absenteeism, and the Earnings Gap," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 183-218, January.
    7. 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, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1352-1370, June.
    8. Paul Glewwe & Nauman Ilias & Michael Kremer, 2010. "Teacher Incentives," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 205-227, July.
    9. Bradley, Steve & Green, Colin & Leeves, Gareth, 2007. "Worker absence and shirking: Evidence from matched teacher-school data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 319-334, June.
    10. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Brian A. Jacob, 2010. "The Effect of Employment Protection on Worker Effort: Evidence from Public Schooling," NBER Working Papers 15655, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Randall Reback, 2010. "Schools' mental health services and young children's emotions, behavior, and learning," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(4), pages 698-725.
    3. Gianna Barbieri & Piero Cipollone & Paolo Sestito, 2007. "Labour Market for Teachers: Demographic Characteristics and Allocative Mechanisms," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 66(3), pages 335-373, November.
    4. 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 09_08, Universidade de São Paulo, Faculdade de Economia, Administração e Contabilidade de Ribeirão Preto.
    5. Rogers, F. Halsey & Vegas, Emiliana, 2009. "No more cutting class ? reducing teacher absence and providing incentives for performance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4847, The World Bank.
    6. Stephanie Riegg Cellini & Fernando Ferreira & Jesse Rothstein, 2008. "The Value of School Facilities: Evidence from a Dynamic Regression Discontinuity Design," Working Papers 1104, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Education Research Section..
    7. Marte Rønning, 2012. "The effect of working conditions on teachers'sickness absence," Discussion Papers 684, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    8. Michael Baker, 2013. "Industrial actions in schools: strikes and student achievement," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 46(3), pages 1014-1036, August.
    9. Brian A. Jacob, 2010. "Do Principals Fire the Worst Teachers?," NBER Working Papers 15715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Emiliana Vegas & Alejandro Ganimian, 2013. "Theory and Evidence on Teacher Policies in Developed and Developing Countries," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 4597, Inter-American Development Bank.

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    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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