La science économique au service de la société
Asma Benhenda

Asma Benhenda


Paris School of Economics / Ehess

Campus Jourdan – 48 boulevard Jourdan 75014 Paris

3e étage, bureau 68

  • Economie de l’éducation
  • Marché du travail
  • Politiques publiques

Directeur de thèse : PIKETTY Thomas

Année académique d'inscription : 2014/2015

I am a Reseach Associate at University College London, Institute of Education. 


Julien GRENET (advisor), Paris School of Economics


Thomas PIKETTY (advisor), Paris School of Economics


Jonah ROCKOFF, Columbia University 


Submitted Papers


-  [Under review]  Teacher Screening, On the Job Evaluations and Performance


Abstract: I study the relationship between systematic and complementary screening and on the-job teacher evaluations by their hierarchy, and teacher performance in secondary school. Using comprehensive French administrative data, I exploit within student across topics variations and I find that the classroom observation grade is the only evaluation grade significantly related to teacher performance. I then investigate whether the classroom observation has an impact on teacher performance and behavior during the year of evaluation and in subsequent years. An event study shows that the classroom observation has no statistically significant impact on student achievement. I find that teachers are more absent during the months following the evaluation, suggesting that this evaluation provokes a temporary change in teacher behavior.


-  [Under review]  What is the Cost of Grade Retention ?

Abstract: This paper offers a new method to estimate the budgetary cost of grade retention that takes into account a) the impact of grade retention on students' school path; b) the dynamic impact of variations in grade retention on the flow of student enrollment across grades. Using administrative data on students in French secondary schools, I instrument retention by students' date of birth and find that the marginal impact of one year of retention is to increase the number of years of schooling by exactly one year. Modeling student enrollment with a discrete Markov chain model, I simulate a counterfactual scenario  where grade retention is completely abolished. I find that budgetary savings increase only gradually and reach a steady state only when students who were entering primary school at the time of the abolition have left high school. 


Working Papers


- Absence, Substitutability and Productivity. Evidence from Teachers
Working Paper, November 2017; Slides (November 2017) 


Worker absence is a frequent phenomenon but little is known on its effects on productivity nor 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, I find 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. On average, tenured substitute teachers are able to compensate 37 % of this negative impact while contract substitute teachers do not have any statistically significant impact. This result has important implication for public policy in the context of the shortage of tenured teachers in disadvantaged areas, where contract teachers are more and more concentrated.


-Media coverage: "Burned out: why are so many teachers quitting or off sick with stress?", The Guardian (May 13, 2018)


- Stay a Little Longer ? Teacher Turnover, Seniority and Quality in French Disadvantaged Schools (with Julien Grenet) , December 2018  

 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. 


Work in Progress

- Teaching Staff Characteristics and Spendings per Student in French Disadvantaged Schools [slides, April 2019; public data]
- Intergenerational Mobility and Assortative Mating for Women over the Life Cycle in the UK (with Lindsey Macmillan)


- Teacher Absence and Workload in the UK (with John Jerrim)


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 & Interviews

Absence, Substitutability and Productivity. Evidence from Teachers,, January 2019 [link to video]


-  Uniforme à l’école : est-il vraiment utile aux élèves ?, Le Parisien (November 5, 2018)


Faut-il rétablir le redoublement ?Public Senat (French Parliamentary Channel; November 29, 2017)


- Benhenda, A. (2017), Politique éducative d'Emmanuel Macron: ce que peut en dire la recherche, The Conversation (May 10, 2017).


- 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: April 2019.