DP11321 The Political Economy of Public Sector Absence: Experimental Evidence from Pakistan

Author(s): Michael J Callen, Saad Gulzar, Ali Hasanain, Muhammad Yasir Khan
Publication Date: June 2016
Keyword(s): Absence, Corruption, Data in Policymaking, Information Communication Technology, patronage, Political Competition, Political Connections
JEL(s): D72, D73
Programme Areas: Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=11321

This paper presents evidence that one cause of absenteeism in the public sector is that government jobs are handed out as patronage. First, politicians routinely interfere when bureaucrats sanction absent doctors, and doctors are more absent in uncompetitive constituencies and when connected to politicians. Next, we find that the effects of two experimental interventions to address absence are attenuated in uncompetitive constituencies and for connected doctors. The first is a smartphone monitoring technology that nearly doubles inspection rates, and the second, representing the first experiment on the effects of providing data to policymakers, channels real time information on doctor absence.