Asma Benhenda

Asma Benhenda

Ph. D. student

Paris School of Economics / Ehess

Campus Jourdan – 48, boulevard Jourdan 75014 Paris

3rd floor, office 68

Phone +33(0)1 80 52 19 22

  • Education
  • Public Economics

Thesis Supervisor: PIKETTY Thomas

Academic year of registration: 2014/2015

Doctoral Advisors: Julien Grenet  & Thomas Piketty

Visiting UC Berkeley, Spring 2017.



Work in Progress


- Absence, Substitutability and Productivity. Evidence from Teachers  

 Abstract: Worker absence is a frequent phenomenon but little is known on its effects on productivity or on organizations’ strategies to cope with this temporary disruptive event through substitute workers. Using a unique French administrative dataset matching, for each absence spell, each missing secondary school teacher to her substitute teacher, the aim of this paper is (a) to estimate the effect of teacher absence on student achievement; (b) to analyze substitute teachers’ assignment policies both across schools and within school, across classrooms; (c) to study how the effect of teacher absence can be mitigated through the assignment and quality of substitute teachers.
Preliminary results suggest that the expected loss in daily productivity from teacher absences is on par with replacing an average teacher with one at the 15th percentile of the teacher value-added distribution. The effect on student test scores of the assignment of a tenured substitute teacher for a year is on par with replacing an average teacher with one at the 35th percentile of the teacher value-added distribution. The effect of the assignment of a contract teacher for a year is on par with replacing an average teacher with a one at the second percentile. These results have major implications for educational inequality as contract teachers are mainly concentrated in disadvantaged areas.

- How to Identify Good Teachers? Teacher Evaluations and Student Achievement  [slides]

Abstract: We know teachers matter for student achievement but we still lack clear evidence on what makes good teaching. A possible explanation is that teaching is a complex, multidimensional task: different skills such as content-knowledge, pedagogical skills and behavior outside the classroom can all be potentially relevant. This paper aims at testing this hypothesis by analyzing three grades used to assess teachers in France: the certification grades, designed to assess teacher content-knowledge, the pedagogical grade, designed to assess pedagogical skills and the administrative grade, designed to assess administrative skills. I find that the certification grades (written or oral) are not significantly associated with student achievement gains, whereas the pedagogical grade is. A standard deviation increase in the pedagogical grade is associated with a two percent standard deviation increase in student achievement gains.  Low income students are more sensitive to the pedagogical grade than others. These results has important implications for teacher training, hiring and assignment.


- Stay a Little Longer ? Teacher Turnover, Seniority and Quality in French Disadvantaged Schools (with Julien Grenet) [slides available upon request]

 Abstract: Using French administrative data on secondary school teachers, we analyze a non-pecuniary, "career-path oriented" centralized incentive scheme designed to attract and retain teachers in French disadvantaged schools. We rely on a major reform of the structure of this incentive scheme to identify its effect on teacher turnover, seniority and quality in disadvantaged schools. Preliminary results suggest that this incentive scheme has a statistically significant positive effect on the number of consecutive years teachers stay in disadvantaged schools, but a negative effect on the quality of teachers moving to these schools. We do not find any statistically significant effect on student achievement. 

Policy Reports


- Benhenda, A. and J. Grenet (2015), Évaluation du coût du redoublement, Paris School of Economics/Institut des politiques publiques, January, 138 p.

- Executive Summary in French; Executive Summary in English.

- Presentation at the Conférence de consensus, Conseil national d'évaluation du système

    scolaire (January 28, 2015).

- Main media coverage: "Le redoublement coûte 2 milliards d'euros par an", Le Monde (January 28, 2015); "Le  redoublement  coûte deux milliards d'euros par an", Le Figaro (January 28, 2015).


- Fack G., Grenet J. and A. Benhenda (2014), L'impact des procédures de sectorisation et d'affectation sur la mixité sociale et scolaire dans les lycées d'Ile-de-France, Paris School of Economics/ Institut des politiques publiques, June, 202 p.

 -  Main media coverage: "Paris, capitale de la ségrégation scolaire au lycée"Le Monde (July 2, 2014); "Le gouvernement souhaite-t-il vraiment la mixité sociale ?", Le Monde (Thomas Piketty's op-ed; August 31, 2016)


Popular Writing


- Benhenda, A. (2015), "L'enseignement supérieur peut-il s'autofinancer ?", Le Monde (October 14).


- Benhenda, A.  and J. Grenet (2015), What is the Cost of Grade Retention in French Primary and Secondary Education ?, IPP Policy Brief n°17, January.


- Benhenda A. (2014), "Pour en finir avec les inégalités entre les sexes à l'école", Le Monde (October 31).


 - Editorials and Briefs for Regards croisés sur l'économie

 - Editor of its issue on higher education, published in October 2015.  

 - Editor of its issue on K-12 education, published in March 2013. Main media coverage: "Mauvaise note pour la mixité", Le Monde (March 29, 2013). 



                                                                                                                                                       Last updated: December 2016.