Absence, Substitutability and Productivity. Evidence from Teachers
April 19 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Worker absence is a frequent phenomenon but little is known on its effects on productivity or on organizations’ strategies to cope with this temporary disruptive event through substitute workers. Using a unique French administrative dataset matching, for each absence spell, each missing secondary school teacher to her substitute teacher, the aim of this paper is (a) to estimate the effect of teacher absence on student achievement; (b) to analyze substitute teachers’ assignment policies both across schools and within school, across classrooms; (c) to study how the effect of teacher absence can be mitigated through the assignment and quality of substitute teachers. Preliminary results suggest that the expected loss in daily productivity from teacher absences is on par with replacing an average teacher with one at the 15th percentile of the teacher value-added distribution. The effect on student test scores of the assignment of a tenured substitute teacher for a year is on par with replacing an average teacher with one at the 35th percentile. The effect of the assignment of a contract teacher for a year is on par with replacing an average teacher with a one at the second percentile. These results have major implications for educational inequality as contract teachers are mainly concentrated in disadvantaged areas.
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