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Autonomy, participation, and learning in Argentine schools - findings andtheir implications for decentralization

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  • Eskeland, Gunnar S.
  • Filmer, Deon

Abstract

According to a theoretical model, school autonomy and parental participation in schools, can increase student learning through separate channels. Greater school autonomy increases the rent that can be distributed among stakeholders in the school, while institutions for parental participation (such as school board) empower parents to command a larger share of this surplus - for example, through student learning. Using a rich cross-sectional data set from Argentine schools (sixth and seventh grades), the authors find that autonomy, and participation raise student test scores for a given level of inputs, in a multiplicative way, consistent with the model. Autonomy has a direct effect on learning (but not for very low levels of participation), while participation affects learning only through the mediation of the effect of autonomy. The results are robust to a variety of robustness checks, and for sub-samples of children from poor households, children of uneducated mothers, schools with low mean family wealth, and public schools. It is possible that autonomy, and participation are endogenously determined, and that this biases the results - the data available do not allow this to be ruled out with certainty. Plausible predicators of autonomy, and participation are also plausible predicators of test scores, and they fail tests for the over-identifying restrictions. Heuristically argued, however, the potential for correlation with unobserved variables may be limited: the data set is rich in observed variables, and autonomy and participation show very low correlation with observed variables. Subject to these caveats, the results may be relevant to decentralization in two ways. First, as decentralization moves responsibility from the central, toward the provincial or local government, the results should be directly relevant if the decentralization increases autonomy, and participation in schools. Second, if the results are interpreted as representing a more general effect of moving decision-making toward users, and the local community, the results are relevant even if little happens to autonomy, and participation in schools. More important, perhaps, the authors illustrate empirically the importance of knowing who is empowered when higher levels of government loosen control.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2766.

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Date of creation: 31 Jan 2002
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2766

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Keywords: Politics and Government; Teaching and Learning; Primary Education; Decentralization; Economic Theory&Research; Teaching and Learning; Primary Education; Politics and Government; ICT Policy and Strategies; Health Monitoring&Evaluation;

References

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  1. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Educational Production," NBER Working Papers 7349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jimenez, Emmanuel & Paqueo, Vicente, 1996. "Do local contributions affect the efficiency of public primary schools?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 377-386, October.
  3. Pritchett, Lant & Filmer, Deon, 1999. "What education production functions really show: a positive theory of education expenditures," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 223-239, April.
  4. Filmer, Deon & Pritchett, Lant, 1998. "Estimating wealth effects without expenditure data - or tears : with an application to educational enrollments in states of India," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 1994, The World Bank.
  5. Urquiola, Miguel, 2001. "Identifying class size effects in developing countries : evidence from rural schools in Bolivia," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 2711, The World Bank.
  6. Joshua Angrist & Eric Bettinger & Erik Bloom & Elizabeth King & Michael Kremer, 2002. "Vouchers for private schooling in colombia: Evidence from a randomized natural experiment," Natural Field Experiments, The Field Experiments Website 00203, The Field Experiments Website.
  7. Sam Peltzman, 1992. "The Political Economy of the Decline of American Public Education," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State 78, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  8. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-77, September.
  9. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "Does Competition among Public Schools Benefit Students and Taxpayers?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1209-1238, December.
  10. Kremer, Michael R, 1995. "Research on Schooling: What We Know and What We Don't: A Comment," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, World Bank Group, vol. 10(2), pages 247-54, August.
  11. James, Estelle & King, Elizabeth M. & Suryadi, Ace, 1996. "Finance, management, and costs of public and private schools in Indonesia," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 387-398, October.
  12. Hanushek, Eric A, 1995. "Interpreting Recent Research on Schooling in Developing Countries," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, World Bank Group, vol. 10(2), pages 227-46, August.
  13. Jimenez, Emmanuel & Sawada, Yasuyuki, 1999. "Do Community-Managed Schools Work? An Evaluation of El Salvador's EDUCO Program," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, World Bank Group, vol. 13(3), pages 415-41, September.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Allcott, Hunt & Ortega, Daniel E., 2009. "The performance of decentralized school systems : evidence from Fe y Alegría in Venezuela," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 4879, The World Bank.
  2. Anwar Shah & Theresa Thompson & Heng-fu Zou, 2004. "Decentralising the public sector: The Impact of Decentralisation on Service Delivery, Corruption, Fiscal Management and Growth in Developing and Emerging Market Economies: A Synthesis of Empirical Evi," CEMA Working Papers, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics 492, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  3. Jean-Paul Faguet & Fabio Sanchez, 2006. "Decentralization´S Effects On Educational Outcomes In Bolivia And Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE 002255, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
  4. Miller, Margaret & Jayasuriya, Ruwan & White, elisabeth & Wodon, Quentin, 2003. "Reaching Health and Education Targets in Argentina: A Provincial Level Analysis," MPRA Paper 15418, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Galiani, Sebastian & Gertler, Paul & Schargrodsky, Ernesto, 2008. "School decentralization: Helping the good get better, but leaving the poor behind," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 2106-2120, October.
  6. Skoufias, Emmanuel & Shapiro, Joseph, 2006. "Evaluating the impact of Mexico's quality schools program : the pitfalls of using nonexperimental data," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 4036, The World Bank.
  7. Kaoru Nabeshima, 2003. "Raising the quality of secondary education in East Asia," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 3140, The World Bank.

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