Chronic Absenteeism and Its Impact on the Learning Outcomes of Primary Grade Students in India

This paper addresses one of the most critical yet overlooked problems of excessive absence of students in primary grades in India. Considering the intuitive link between students’ attendance and achievements, this paper empirically investigates the incidence and causes of chronic absenteeism while examining the variations in the attainment of foundational skills of primary students. Using data from the India Human Development Survey, round II, the authors find a continuous decline in the attainment of foundational skills among students, as the absenteeism rate increases from ‘normal’ to ‘chronic’, clearly indicating that attendance works! Further, the logistic regression model shows that poor health conditions of a child, larger school distance, extra school working hours, teaching factors, and harsh punishments are among the major contributing factors leading to chronic absence among students. Early attention and strict policy interventions are required due to their direct implications on the cognitive growth of young minds, and quality and productivity of the overall school education.

Urban Exclusion: Rethinking Social Protection in the Wake of the Pandemic in India

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the consequent nationwide lockdown in India that began on March 25, 2020, caused a major disruption in the labour market, leading to the widespread loss of livelihoods and food insecurity. The findings from a telephonic survey of a representative sample of more than 3,000 households in the National Capital Region (NCR) also reveal a dramatic loss in earning capacity. The place of residence and occupation mediated the impact of the lockdown, with greater vulnerabilities witnessed amongst those engaged in informal employment, especially in urban areas. The Government rolled out a series of welfare measures in response to the widespread economic distress, with the provision of free foodgrains and cash transfers aimed at rehabilitating those who were the most affected. While the use of prior social registries enabled quick disbursement, our analysis shows that few households received both foodgrains and cash transfers, particularly in urban areas. Urban residents were also eight percentage points less likely to receive cash transfers as compared to their rural counterparts.

Persistence in physicians’ locations: Long-run evidence from decentralised loan repayment programs

Do temporary labor supply programs cause physicians to move to and stay in undesirable areas? To what extent do these programs improve the health of the elderly and non-elderly population in those areas? I investigate these questions by studying state and local loan repayment programs for new eligible physicians which were rolled out over the last four decades in hundreds of counties across US states. Leveraging a new longitudinal dataset that tracks all physicians from medical school to mid-career, and exploiting both space and time variation, I find that these policies increase the number of physicians by 5% in treated counties relative to untreated counties in the state. The inflows of physicians are driven by higher paying eligible specialities. The programs continue to influence physicians’ location decisions even after they end –- effects persist for at least ten years after the minimum obligation period. Furthermore, the programs modestly spur trainees to enter eligible specialities in treated states by substituting away from ineligible specialities. Treated counties also see the elderly increase their visits to physicians while reducing those to the emergency rooms. Using patient level data from California, I demonstrate these results are not driven by selective admission of patients to treated hospitals. Overall, my findings emphasize the importance of policies that reduce financial frictions for highly skilled professionals –- in shaping not only their migration and labor market trajectories, but also the health outcomes of people in their communities.