NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Fiscal Cost of Weak Governance: Evidence from Teacher Absence in India

Karthik Muralidharan, Jishnu Das, Alaka Holla, Aakash Mohpal

NBER Working Paper No. 20299
Issued in July 2014
NBER Program(s):   DEV   ED   LS   PE

We construct a new nationally-representative panel dataset of schools across 1297 villages in India and find that the large investments in public primary education over the past decade have led to substantial improvements in input-based measures of school quality, including infrastructure, pupil-teacher ratios, and monitoring. However, teacher absence continues to be high, with 23.6 percent of teachers in public schools across rural India being absent during unannounced visits to schools. Improvements in school infrastructure and service conditions are not correlated with lower teacher absence. We find two robust correlations in the nationally-representative panel data that corroborate findings from smaller-scale experiments. First, reductions in pupil-teacher ratios are correlated with increased teacher absence. Second, increases in the frequency of inspections are strongly correlated with lower teacher absence. We estimate that the fiscal cost of teacher absence in India is around $1.5 billion per year, and that investing in better governance by hiring more inspectors to increase the frequency of monitoring could be over ten times more cost effective at increasing teacher-student contact time (net of teacher absence) than hiring more teachers.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.

E-mail:

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20299

Published: Muralidharan, Karthik & Das, Jishnu & Holla, Alaka & Mohpal, Aakash, 2017. "The fiscal cost of weak governance: Evidence from teacher absence in India," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 116-135. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Ganimian and Murnane w20284 Improving Educational Outcomes in Developing Countries: Lessons from Rigorous Impact Evaluations
Glaeser, Gottlieb, and Ziv w20291 Unhappy Cities
Neumark and Muz w20260 The "Business Climate" and Economic Inequality
Muralidharan and Sundararaman w19441 The Aggregate Effect of School Choice: Evidence from a Two-stage Experiment in India
Muralidharan and Sundararaman w15323 Teacher Performance Pay: Experimental Evidence from India
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us