Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 20 No. 1 (Winter 2006)


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

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Chaudhury, Nazmul, Jeffrey Hammer, Michael Kremer, Karthik Muralidharan, and F. Halsey Rogers. 2006. "Missing in Action: Teacher and Health Worker Absence in Developing Countries." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20(1): 91-116.

DOI: 10.1257/089533006776526058


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.

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


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