Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Research Seminar Series (RSS)

Contract Teachers: Experimental Evidence from India

Thursday, May 6, 2010 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

On Thursday, May 6, 2010, The Center for Global Development and The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies co-hosted a Massachusetts Avenue Development Seminar (MADS)* on Contract Teachers: Experimental Evidence from India featuring Karthik Muralidharan, Department of Economics, University of California San Diego. Alan de Brauw of IFPRI served as the discussant.

Abstract: The large-scale expansion of primary education in developing countries has led to the increasing use of teachers on fixed-term renewable contracts who are not professionally trained and who are paid much lower salaries than regular civil service teachers. This has been a very controversial policy, and there is limited evidence about the effectiveness of contract teachers. We present experimental evidence from a program that provided an extra contract teacher to 100 randomly-chosen government-run rural primary schools in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. At the end of two years, students in schools with an extra contract teacher performed significantly better than those in comparison schools by 0.15 and 0.13 standard deviations in math and language tests respectively. While all students gain from the program, the extra contract teacher was particularly beneficial for students in their first year of school and students in remote schools. Contract teachers were significantly less likely to be absent from school than civil service teachers (16% vs. 27%). We also find using four different non-experimental estimation procedures that contract teachers are no less effective in improving student learning than regular teachers who are more qualified, better trained, and paid five times higher salaries.
 
Read paper (pdf, 532K).

*The Massachusetts Avenue Development Seminar (MADS) series is an effort by the Center for Global Development and The Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies to take advantage of the incredible concentration of great international development scholars in the Metro Washington, DC area. The series seeks to bring together members of this community and improve communication between them.

Related Topics: