(Mis)allocation of teachers and state capacity

Project Active from to State

Cross-country differences in educational attainment are large. Despite a massive expansion of primary schooling in developing countries in the last decades, a substantial share of the population in low-income countries still does not complete primary education. Since teachers are a key input into the education process and teacher compensation constitutes a major part of public education expenditure, the management of the teacher workforce is one of the central tasks of the government in the education sector.

While it is well known that there is a lack of teachers in developing countries, little attention has been paid to the distribution of teachers within countries. This project draws attention to the allocation of teachers across public primary schools and studies implied inefficiencies in human resource utilization.

The objectives of this project are manifold:

  • First, it seeks to describe and compare the within-country distribution of teachers across schools in different countries. For this purpose, school-level data on pupil-teacher ratios for the universe of public primary schools are collected and analysed for a large number of countries.
  • Second, this project aims to understand how much countries could improve educational outcomes by improving teacher allocation. Based on a theoretical model of teacher allocation, the optimal allocation of teachers is determined. Subsequently, educational gains from the optimal and other counterfactual teacher allocations are estimated.
  • Third, this project aspires to understand the sources of variation in pupil-teacher ratio across schools. Particular focus is put on the role of state capacity. The combination of detailed administrative data from the Ministry of Education in Zambia and the results of a management survey at district education offices shall throw light on the link between state capacity and teacher allocation.