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The research program investigates the determinants of learning outcomes involving a range of players with complex motivations and objectives (students, families, teachers, public and private schools, school administrators, ministries of education).

A variety of data sources—household surveys, administrative data, and surveys designed to collect household, facility and administrative data—is used to diagnose problems by documenting the determinants of education outcomes, evaluate interventions that aim to improve outcomes, and explore key relationships of accountability between users, providers, and policymakers in both the public and private sectors.

Articles & Briefs

Armed Conflict and Schooling: Long-term Evidence from Cambodia and Rwanda 
Research Brief 2008

Disability, Poverty, and Schooling in Developing Countries 
Digest Article 2007


Strengthening Education: Approaches that Work
Featured Article 2007

More articles & briefs

 Books & Reports 
  • Are you Being Served? New Tools for Measuring Service Delivery 
    Book 2008

  • Aid Effectiveness in Education: Setting Priorities in a Time of Crisis
    Report 2008



Patterns, Trends, Determinants and Consequences of Education Outcomes
Contact: Deon Filmer

This work uses existing and purposively collected survey data to analyze the determinants and correlates of school enrollment, attainment, and learning achievement

  • Assessing Asset Indices, D. Filmer, K. Scott. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4605. April 2008.  
  • "Disability, poverty and schooling in developing countries: Results from 14 household surveys," D. Filmer. World Bank Economic Review. 2008. 22(1): 141-163, 2008.
  • Inequalities in Children’s Schooling: AIDS, Orphanhood, Poverty, and Gender, M. Ainsworth, D. Filmer.” World Development 34(6): 1099–1128, 2006.Considers relationship between orphan status, household economic status, and child school enrollment across low-income countries varies and school-related orphan-specific mitigation measures.
  • Missing in Action: Teacher and Health Worker Absence in Developing Countries (PDF file), N. Chaudhury, J. S. Hammer, M. Kremer, K. Muralidharan, F. Halsey Rogers. Journal of Economic Perspectives 20(1): 91-116, 2006.
  • Learning Levels and Gaps in Pakistan, J. Das, P. Pandey, T. Zajonc. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4067, 2006. Reports on results of a survey of primary public and private schools in rural Pakistan with a focus on student achievement as measured through test scores.
  • Migrant Opportunity and the Educational Attainment of Youth in Rural China (PDF file), A. De Brauw, J. Giles." Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) Discussion Paper No. 2326 (September 2006).Investigates how reductions of barriers to migration affect the decision of middle school graduates to attend high school in rural China.
  • A Millennium Learning Goal: Measuring Real Progress in Education, D. filmer, A. Hasan, L. Pritchett. Center for Global Development Working Paper 97, 2006. Argues that the next step in the Millennium Development Goals in primary education is to monitor outcomes of learning achievement.
  • Early Childhood Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, N. Schady. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3869, 2006.Considers the theoretical case to be made for investments in early childhood, selectively reviews the literature on the impact of ECD programs in the United States, discusses the evidence from Latin America and the Caribbean, and makes suggestions for future research.
  • Improving Student Performance in Public Primary Schools in Developing Countries: Evidence from Indonesia (PDF file), D. Suryadarma, A. Suryahadi, S. Sumarto, F. Halsey Rogers." Education Economics 14(4): 401-29, 2006.

  • Religious School Enrollment in Pakistan: A Look at the Data, T. Andrabi, J. Das, A. I. Khwaja, T. Zajonc. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3521, 2005. Uses published data sources and a census of schooling choice to show that existing estimates of high and increasing enrollment in Pakistani religious schools, commonly known as madrassas are inflated by an order of magnitude.
  • Teacher Shocks and Student Learning: Evidence from Zambia, J. Das, S. Dercon, J. Habyarimana, P. Krishnan. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3602, 2005.Uses new data to estimate the impact of shocks to teachers on student learning in mathematics and English.
  • Gender and wealth disparities in schooling: Evidence from 44 countries. D. Filmer. International Journal of Educational Research   43(6): 351-69, 2005. Compares household data sets (Demographic and Health Surveys) to investigate how gender and wealth interact to generate within-country inequalities in educational enrollment and attainment. 
  • Disability, Poverty, and Schooling in Developing Countries: Results from 11 Household Surveys, D. Filmer." World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3794, 2005. Analyzes the relationship between whether a young person has a disability, the poverty status of their household, and their school participation using 11 household surveys from nine developing countries.
  • Cognitive Development among Young Children in Ecuador: The Roles of Wealth, Health and Parenting, C. Paxson, N. Schady. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3605, 2005. Examines the relationship between early cognitive development, socioeconomic status, child health, and parenting quality in a developing country.
  • If you build it, will they come? School availability and school enrollment in 21 poor countries, D. Filmer. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3340, 2004.Increasing school availability by decreasing the average distance to schools can be a tool for increasing enrollments but is unlikely to have a substantial effect. Other interventions, such as those geared toward increasing the demand for schooling or increasing the quality of schooling should be prioritized.

Interventions to Improve Education Outcomes
Contact: Norbert Schady

This work uses retrospective and prospective impact evaluations to evaluate the potential for interventions to promote education enrollment, grade attainment, and learning achievement.


  • Getting Girls into School: Evidence from Cambodia (PDFfile), D. Filmer, N. Schady. World Bank Research Digest 1(2, Winter): 3, 2006.Cash incentives for families to enroll girls in school can work even in low-income countries with relatively low-quality schools.
  • Getting Girls into School: Evidence from a Scholarship Program in Cambodia, D. Filmer, N. Schady. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3910, 2006.

  • Cash Transfers, Conditions, School Enrollment, and Child Work: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Ecuador, N. Schady, M. Caridad Araujo.” World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3930, 2006. 


  • “Reassessing Conditional Cash Transfer Programs,“ J. Das, Quy-Toan Do, B. Ozler.World Bank Research Observer 20: 57-80, 2005.

Absenteeism of 
 Teachers and Health Workers (Multicountry)
Contact: Halsey Rogers 

The absenteeism study is a variant of the Qualitative Service Delivery Survey in which surprise visits are carried out in primary schools. These surveys combine direct verification of the attendance of teachers and medical personnel with detailed data gathering on facility and provider characteristics.

This work began as part of the  Making Services Work for the Poor: World Development Report 2004 and has been completed in Bangladesh (where results have already drawn a lot of attention), Ecuador, India (20 separate states), Indonesia, Peru, and Uganda.

Beyond documenting the extent and patterns of teacher absenteeism, the study explores provider and institutional factors that shape absenteeism patterns and the impact of teacher absenteeism on student performance.




  • Teacher Absence in India: A Snapshot (PDF file), M. Kremer, K. Muralidharan, N. Chaudhury, J. Hammer, F. H. Rogers.Journal of the European Economic Association 3 (2-3): 658-667, 2005.



Information, Voice and Accountability in Education (Multicountry)
Contact: Deon Filmer

Recent studies confirm that bureaucratic or political capture of public funds can be a serious obstacle to improving basic service delivery in many developing countries. For example, in Uganda in the 1990s, publicizing information about intended levels of non-wage transfers from the federal to local level dramatically increased the share of those resources reaching the schools from 70 percent of schools receiving nothing to 90 percent of school receiving part or all their entitlements. In Bangalore, India, a civil society organization initiated the generation of “citizen report cards” that rated the quality of public services based on interviews with the users of these services--an intervention that was credited with management reforms that have contributed to improvements in service delivery. This research project evaluates the impact of informational innovations on education spending, school functioning and learning outcomes.

Uganda ( survey questionnaires and more ...)

  • Local Capture: Evidence From a Central Government Transfer Program in Uganda, R. Ritva, and J.Svensson.  The Quarterly Journal of Economics 119(2): 678-704, 2004.
  • The Power of Information: Evidence from a Newspaper Campaign to Reduce Capture, R. Ritva, and J.Svensson. Policy Research Working Paper 3239, World Bank, Washington, D.C. March 2004.
  • Recovery in Service Delivery: Evidence from Schools and Health Centers (PDF file), R. Reinikka. In Uganda's Recovery: The Role of Farms, Firms, and Government, ed. Reinikka and Collier. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2001. Chapter 11 sheds light on service delivery in education and health using unique survey data from Uganda.
  • Explaining Leakage of Public Funds, R. Ritva, and J.Svensson. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 2709, 2001.


  • Can Information Campaigns Spark Local Participation and Improve Outcomes? A Study of Primary Education in Uttar Pradesh, India, A. Banerjee, R. Banerji, E. Duflo, R. Glennerster, S. Khemani. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3967, 2006.

Public-Private Partnerships for Education in Punjab, Pakistan
Contact: Jishnu Das

This study is a long-term evaluation on the potential of public-private partnerships in the educational sector, initiated in 2003. This project is integral to the creation of a regulatory framework for education in Pakistan, as well as the Bank's Educational Sector Strategy in the country. This project has progressed exceptionally well with the first phase of data collection over and analytical work underway. In the second phase, randomized interventions have been put in place and an interim and final round of data collection will be completed by November 2005. There has been very strong regional support for this work. In addition, the response from the Punjab government has been extremely encouraging and close coordination between the team and the education department in Punjab is anticipated for a report on basic education in Punjab, due for completion by the end of 2004.

  • India shining and Bharat drowning: comparing two Indian states to the worldwide distribution in mathematics achievement, J. Das and T. Zajonc.  World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4644, 2008.
  • Learning and Educational Achievement in Punjab Schools, T. Andrabi, J. Das, A. I. Asim, T. Vishwanath, T. Zajonc, 2008. Download report (PDF 5.6MB), Project web site
  • A Dime a Day: The Possibilities and Limits of Private Schooling in Pakistan, T. Andrabi, J.Das, and A. I. Khwaja. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4066, 2006.
  • Religious School Enrollment in Pakistan: A Look at the Data,T., Andrabi, J.  Das, A. I. Khwaja, and T. Zajonc. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 3521, 2005.
  • “Religious Schooling in Pakistan: A Look at the Data," T.Andrabi, J. Das, A. I. Khwaja and T. Zajonc. Comparative Education Review, August 2006.

Expenditure Tracking and Service Delivery in Education (Multicountry)
Contact: Jishnu Das

This work combines public expenditure tracking surveys and more general school-level service delivery surveys to investigate the determinants of school performance. These studies focus on three main elements:

  • Analyzing service delivery by studying the flow of public expenditure from the Ministry of Education to the schools, and how these public resources interact with household characteristics and private expenditures on education.
  • Examining how the funding that reaches the school, either as cash transfers or the delivery of educational materials, and how these impact learning outcomes.
  • Assessing the incentives that school-level stakeholders face, and the links to school functioning and learning outcomes.


Papau New Guinea

  • Papua New Guinea: Public Expenditure and Service Delivery, June 2004 (116 pages)
    The data collected during a Public Expenditure and Service Delivery (PESD) highlight a number of concerns at different levels of the education delivery system: school facilities and environment, school finances, teacher and student performance, and the administration of education.
  • Report  | Annexes       


Selected Policy Research Working Papers on Education
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The following policy research working papers are drawn from the World Bank's institutional archives. Each link opens a page with an abstract of the document and several download options.

Last updated: 2012-03-06


WPS6446Conducting ethical economic research: complications from the fieldAlderman, Harold; Das, Jishnu; Rao, Vijayendra2013/05
WPS6339Buying votes vs. supplying public services : political incentives to under-invest in pro-poor policiesKhemani, Stuti2013/01
WPS6340Cash transfers and child schooling : evidence from a randomized evaluation of the role of conditionalityAkresh, Richard; de Walque, Damien; Kazianga, Harounan2013/01
WPS6278Perils of simulation : parallel streams and the case of stata's rnormal commandOzier, Owen2012/11
WPS6085Does Africa need a rotten Kin Theorem ? experimental evidence from village economiesJakiela, Pamela; Ozier, Owen2012/06

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