In this article, Nazmul Chaudhury, Jeffrey Hammer, Michael Kremer, Karthik Muralidharan and F. Halsey Rogers surveyed teachers and healthcare workers in several developing countries to determine their rates of absenteeism. The authors find that absenteeism is a significant problem in these contexts, and propose several suggestions for policy.



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.



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.