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.

Information about Free Papers

You should expect 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

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Murnane and Ganimian w20284 Improving Educational Outcomes in Developing Countries: Lessons from Rigorous Evaluations
Deaton and Aten w20244 Trying to Understand the PPPs in ICP2011: Why are the Results so Different?
Glaeser, Gottlieb, and Ziv w20291 Unhappy Cities
Francois, Rainer, and Trebbi w20216 The Dictator's Inner Circle
Anderson, Kellogg, and Salant w20280 Hotelling Under Pressure
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

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

Contact Us