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Education Vouchers in Principle and Practice: A Survey

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  • West, Edwin G
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    Abstract

    An education voucher system exists when governments make payments to families that enable their children to enter public or private schools of their choice. The tax-funded payments can be made directly to parents or indirectly to the selected schools; their purpose is to increase parental choice, to promote school competition, and to allow low-income families access to private schools. Some opponents predict that vouchers will destroy the public system, aggravate poverty, and foster segregation. Others fear that voucher-receiving independent schools will be regulated out of recognition. The main purpose of this article is to examine the recent emergence of voucher systems as an interesting phenomenon in its own right. The evidence summarized relates to voucher systems operating in twenty countries, provinces, and states. The typical "funds-follow-the-child" voucher system, in which governments subsidize "schools of choice" in strict proportion to enrollment, appears to be the favorite form. This type of voucher has been adopted by developing countries‹notably Bangladesh, Belize, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, and Lesotho‹as well as by industrial countries such as Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Much of the recorded experience with such programs is pertinent to the longstanding theoretical debates on the desirability of voucher systems.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal World Bank Research Observer.

    Volume (Year): 12 (1997)
    Issue (Month): 1 (February)
    Pages: 83-103

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    Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:12:y:1997:i:1:p:83-103

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    1. Hettich, Walter, 1969. "Mixed Public and Private Financing of Education: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(1), pages 210-12, March.
    2. Friedman, Ernest H., 1993. "Letter to the editor," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 127-127, July.
    3. Friedman, Ernest H., 1993. "Letter to the editor," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 383-383, February.
    4. Herbert J. Walberg and Joseph L. Bast, 1993. "School Choice: The Essential Reform," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 13(1), pages 101-121, Spring/Su.
    5. West, Edwin G., 1991. "Public schools and excess burdens," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 159-169, June.
    6. Friedman, Ernest H., 1993. "Letter to the editor," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 583-583, February.
    7. Levin, Henry M., 1991. "The economics of educational choice," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 137-158, June.
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