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Parental Preferences and School Competition: Evidence from a Public School Choice Program

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  • Hastings, Justine S.

    (Yale U)

  • Kane, Thomas J.

    (U of California, Los Angeles)

  • Staiger, Douglas O.

    (Dartmouth College)

Abstract

This paper uses data from the implementation of a district-wide public school choice plan in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina to estimate preferences for school characteristics and examine their implications for the local educational market. We use parental rankings of their top three choices of schools matched with student demographic and test score data to estimate a mixed-logit discrete choice demand model for schools. We find that parents value proximity highly and the preference attached to a school's mean test score increases with student's income and own academic ability. We also find considerable heterogeneity in preferences even after controlling for income, academic achievement and race, with strong negative correlations between preferences for academics and school proximity. Simulations of parental responses to test score improvements at a school suggest that the demand response at high-performing schools would be larger than the response at low-performing schools, leading to disparate demand-side pressure to improve performance under school choice. Moreover, given the greater sensitivity to school test scores among high-income and high-scoring youth, the marginal students attracted when a school improves performance would typically raise the average income and baseline test score at the school.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Yale University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 10.

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Date of creation: Nov 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:yaleco:10

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  1. Caroline Minter Hoxby, 1994. "Does Competition Among Public Schools Benefit Students and Taxpayers?," NBER Working Papers 4979, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Daniel P. Mayer & Paul E. Peterson & David E. Myers & Christina Clark Tuttle & William G. Howell, 2002. "School Choice in New York City After Three Years: An Evaluation of the School Choice Scholarships Program," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 3180, Mathematica Policy Research.
  3. Dubin, Jeffrey A & McFadden, Daniel L, 1984. "An Econometric Analysis of Residential Electric Appliance Holdings and Consumption," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 345-62, March.
  4. Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 841-90, July.
  5. Gordon B. Dahl, 2002. "Mobility and the Return to Education: Testing a Roy Model with Multiple Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2367-2420, November.
  6. Alan B. Krueger & Pei Zhu, 2003. "Another Look at the New York City School Voucher Experiment," NBER Working Papers 9418, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Julie Berry Cullen & Brian A. Jacob & Steven Levitt, 2003. "The Effect of School Choice on Student Outcomes: Evidence from Randomized Lotteries," NBER Working Papers 10113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Dagsvik, John K, 1994. "Discrete and Continuous Choice, Max-Stable Processes, and Independence from Irrelevant Attributes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(5), pages 1179-1205, September.
  9. Schelling, Thomas C, 1969. "Models of Segregation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 488-93, May.
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