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Teacher shocks and student learning : evidence from Zambia

  • Das, Jishnu
  • Dercon, Stefan
  • Habyarimana, James
  • Krishnan, Pramila

A large literature examines the link between shocks to households and the educational attainment of children. The authors use new data to estimate the impact of shocks to teachers on student learning in mathematics and English. Using absenteeism in the 30 days preceding the survey as a measure of these shocks they find large impacts: A 5 percent increase in the teacher's absence rate reduces learning by 4 to 8 percent of average gains over the year. This reduction in learning achievement likely reflects both the direct effect of increased absenteeism and the indirect effects of less lesson preparation and lower teaching quality when in class. The authors document that health problems-primarily teachers'own illness and the illnesses of their family members-account for more than 60 percent of teacher absences; not surprising in a country struggling with an HIV/AIDS epidemic. The relationship between shocks to teachers and student learning suggests that households are unable to substitute adequately for teaching inputs. Excess teaching capacity that allows for the greater use of substitute teachers could lead to larger gains in student learning.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3602.

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Date of creation: 26 Apr 2005
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3602
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  1. 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.
  2. Paul Bennell, 2005. "The Impact of the AIDS Epidemic on Teachers in Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(3), pages 440-466.
  3. Stefan Dercon, 2004. "When Can School Inputs Improve Test Scores?," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2004-25, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Foster, Andrew D, 1995. "Prices, Credit Markets and Child Growth in Low-Income Rural Areas," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(430), pages 551-70, May.
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  7. Jacoby, Hanan G & Skoufias, Emmanuel, 1997. "Risk, Financial Markets, and Human Capital in a Developing Country," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 311-35, July.
  8. de Janvry, Alain & Finan, Frederico & Sadoulet, Elisabeth & Vakis, Renos, 2004. "Can conditional cash transfers serve as safety nets to keep children at school and out of the labor market?," CUDARE Working Paper Series 0999, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy.
  9. Sandmo, Agnar, 1969. "Capital Risk, Consumption, and Portfolio Choice," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 37(4), pages 586-99, October.
  10. Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin, 1998. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," NBER Working Papers 6691, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Chaudhury, Nazmul & Hammer, Jeffrey S., 2003. "Ghost doctors - absenteeism in Bangladeshi health facilities," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3065, The World Bank.
  12. Deaton, Angus, 1992. "Understanding Consumption," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288244, March.
  13. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F3-F33, February.
  14. Angrist, Joshua D & Lavy, Victor, 2001. "Does Teacher Training Affect Pupil Learning? Evidence from Matched Comparisons in Jerusalem Public Schools," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(2), pages 343-69, April.
  15. Clive Bell & Shantayanan Devarajan & Hans Gersbach, 2003. "The long-run economic costs of AIDS : theory and an application to South Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3152, The World Bank.
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