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The Social Cost of Open Enrollment as a School Choice Policy

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Abstract

We evaluate the integrating and segregating effects of school choice in a large, urban school district. Our findings, based on applications for fall 2001, suggest that open enrollment, a school-choice program that does not have explicit integrative objectives and does not provide busing, segregates students along three socioeconomic dimensions – race/ethnicity, student achievement and parental-education status. Using information on expenditures to promote integration at the district, we back out estimates of the social cost of open enrollment realized in terms of student segregation. Our social-cost estimates range widely depending on the weights that we place on the different dimensions of integration. However, even using conservative valuations of the different integrative measures suggests a social cost at this single district of over 3.4 million dollars (in year-2000 dollars). When considered in the context of the nation as a whole, where open- enrollment programs are commonplace, this estimate from a single district is substantial. However, we also note that there may be benefits not related to integration that counterbalance some or all of these costs.

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File URL: http://economics.missouri.edu/working-papers/2009/WP0910_koedel.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Missouri in its series Working Papers with number 0906.

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Length: 34 pgs.
Date of creation: 18 Sep 2009
Date of revision: 13 Apr 2010
Handle: RePEc:umc:wpaper:0910

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Keywords: school choice; open enrollment; integration; segregation; segregation costs;

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  1. Joshua Angrist & Eric Bettinger & Erik Bloom & Elizabeth King & Michael Kremer, 2002. "Vouchers for Private Schooling in Colombia: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1535-1558, December.
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  8. Robert Bifulco & Helen F. Ladd & Stephen Ross, 2008. "Public School Choice and Integration: Evidence from Durham, North Carolina," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 109, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
  9. Harry J. Holzer & Keith R. Ihlanfeldt, 1998. "Customer Discrimination And Employment Outcomes For Minority Workers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 835-867, August.
  10. Nardinelli, Clark & Simon, Curtis, 1990. "Customer Racial Discrimination in the Market for Memorabilia: The Case of Baseball," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(3), pages 575-95, August.
  11. Audrey Light & Wayne Strayer, 2000. "Determinants of College Completion: School Quality or Student Ability?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(2), pages 299-332.
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