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Does Abolishing Fees Reduce School Quality? Evidence from Kenya

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  • Tessa Bold
  • Mwangi Kimenyi
  • Germano Mwabu
  • Justin Sandefur

Abstract

In 2003 Kenya abolished user fees in all government primary schools. We find that this Free Primary Education (FPE) policy resulted in a decline in public school quality and increased demand for private schooling. However, the former did not reflect a decline in value added by public schools - as anticipated if fees contribute to local accountability - but rather the selection of weaker pupils into free education. In contrast, affluent children who exited to the private sector in response to FPE benefited from a strong, causal effect on their exam performance which is robust to selection on unobserved ability.

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File URL: http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/workingpapers/pdfs/csae-wps-2011-04.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2011-04.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2011-04

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Keywords: user fees; school quality; private schools;

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References

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  1. Jessica Cohen & Pascaline Dupas, 2010. "Free Distribution or Cost-Sharing? Evidence from a Randomized Malaria Prevention Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 1-45, February.
  2. Esther Duflo & Pascaline Dupas & Michael Kremer, 2011. "Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 1739-74, August.
  3. Nava Ashraf & James Berry & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2007. "Can Higher Prices Stimulate Product Use? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Zambia," NBER Working Papers 13247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Hsieh, Chang-Tai & Urquiola, Miguel, 2006. "The effects of generalized school choice on achievement and stratification: Evidence from Chile's voucher program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1477-1503, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Frédéric LESNE, 2013. "School Fees, Parental Participation and Accountability: Evidence from Madagascar," Working Papers halshs-00825244, HAL.
  2. Adrienne M. Lucas & Isaac M. Mbiti, 2012. "Access, Sorting, and Achievement: The Short-Run Effects of Free Primary Education in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 226-53, October.
  3. Frédéric LESNE, 2013. "School Fees, Parental Participation and Accountability: Evidence from Madagascar," Working Papers halshs-00825240, HAL.

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