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

Authors: Chaudhury, Nazmul; Hammer, Jeffrey; Kremer, Michael; Muralidharan, Karthik; Rogers, F. Halsey

Source: The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Volume 20, Number 1, Winter 2006 , pp. 91-116(26)

Publisher: American Economic Association

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Abstract:

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.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1257/089533006776526058

Publication date: December 1, 2006

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  • The Journal of Economic Perspectives (JEP) attempts to fill a gap between the general interest press and most other academic economics journals. The journal aims to publish articles that will serve several goals: to synthesize and integrate lessons learned from active lines of economic research; to provide economic analysis of public policy issues; to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas among the fields of thinking; to offer readers an accessible source for state-of-the-art economic thinking; to suggest directions for future research; to provide insights and readings for classroom use; and to address issues relating to the economics profession.
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