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Can increasing private school participation and monetary loss in a voucher program affect public school performance? Evidence from Milwaukee

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  • Chakrabarti, Rajashri

Abstract

The Milwaukee voucher program, as implemented in 1990, allowed only non-sectarian private schools to participate in the program. Following a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling, the program saw a major shift and entered into its second phase, when religious private schools were allowed to participate for the first time in 1998. This led to more than a three-fold increase in the number of private schools and almost a four-fold increase in the number of choice students. Moreover, due to some changes in funding provisions, the revenue loss per student from vouchers increased in the second phase of the program. This paper analyzes the impacts of increase in competition brought about by these changes on public school performance in Milwaukee. Using data from 1987 to 2002, and a difference-in-differences estimation strategy in trends, the paper finds that these changes have led to an improvement of the public schools in the second phase of the program as compared to the first phase. The results are robust to alternative samples and specifications, and survive several sensitivity checks including correcting for mean reversion. The findings imply that voucher design matters and choice of parameters in a voucher program is crucial as far as impacts on public school incentives and performance are concerned.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 92 (2008)
Issue (Month): 5-6 (June)
Pages: 1371-1393

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:92:y:2008:i:5-6:p:1371-1393

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Dennis Epple & Richard Romano, 2002. "Educational Vouchers and Cream Skimming," NBER Working Papers 9354, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2002. "School Choice and School Productivity (or Could School Choice be a Tide that Lifts All Boats?)," NBER Working Papers 8873, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kenneth Chay & Patrick J. McEwan & Miguel Urquiola, 2003. "The Central Role of Noise in Evaluating Interventions that Use Test Scores to Rank Schools," Discussion Papers 0304-10, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  4. McMillan, Robert, 2004. "Competition, incentives, and public school productivity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1871-1892, August.
  5. Caroline Minter Hoxby, 2003. "School Choice and School Productivity. Could School Choice Be a Tide that Lifts All Boats?," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of School Choice, pages 287-342 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Rajashri Chakrabarti, 2004. "Impact of Voucher Design on Public School Performance: Evidence from Florida and Milwaukee Voucher Programs," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 221, Econometric Society.
  7. West, Martin R. & Peterson, Paul E., 2005. "The Efficacy of Choice Threats within School Accountability Systems: Results from Legislatively Induced Experiments," Working Paper Series rwp05-033, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  8. Chakrabarti, Rajashri, 2008. "Can increasing private school participation and monetary loss in a voucher program affect public school performance? Evidence from Milwaukee," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1371-1393, June.
  9. Thomas J. Nechyba, 1996. "Public School Finance in a General Equilibrium Tiebout World: Equalization Programs, Peer Effects and Private School Vouchers," NBER Working Papers 5642, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E, 1998. "Competition between Private and Public Schools, Vouchers, and Peer-Group Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 33-62, March.
  11. Elizabeth M. Caucutt, 2002. "Educational Vouchers When There Are Peer Group Effects--Size Matters," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(1), pages 195-222, February.
  12. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Miguel Urquiola, 2003. "When Schools Compete, How Do They Compete? An Assessment of Chile's Nationwide School Voucher Program," NBER Working Papers 10008, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Thomas J. Nechyba, 2003. "Introducing School Choice into Multidistrict Public School Systems," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of School Choice, pages 145-194 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Manski, Charles F., 1992. "Educational choice (vouchers) and social mobility," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 351-369, December.
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