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School Vouchers: A Survey of the Economics Literature

Author

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  • Dennis Epple
  • Richard E. Romano
  • Miguel Urquiola

Abstract

We review the theoretical, computational, and empirical research on school vouchers, with a focus on the latter. Our assessment is that the evidence to date is not sufficient to warrant recommending that vouchers be adopted on a widespread basis; however, multiple positive findings support continued exploration. Specifically, the empirical research on small-scale programs does not suggest that awarding students a voucher is a systematically reliable way to improve educational outcomes, and some detrimental effects have been found. Nevertheless, in some settings, or for some subgroups or outcomes, vouchers can have a substantial positive effect on those who use them. Studies of large-scale voucher programs find student sorting as a result of their implementation, although of varying magnitude. Evidence on both small-scale and large-scale programs suggests that competition induced by vouchers leads public schools to improve. Moreover, research is making progress on understanding how vouchers may be designed to limit adverse effects from sorting, while preserving positive effects related to competition. Finally, our sense is that work originating in a single case (e.g., a given country) or in a single research approach (e.g., experimental designs) will not provide a full understanding of voucher effects; fairly wide-ranging empirical and theoretical work will be necessary to make progress.

Suggested Citation

  • Dennis Epple & Richard E. Romano & Miguel Urquiola, 2017. "School Vouchers: A Survey of the Economics Literature," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(2), pages 441-492, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:55:y:2017:i:2:p:441-92
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jel.20150679
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    Cited by:

    1. Cardak, Buly A. & Glomm, Gerhard & Ravikumar, B., 2020. "Majority voting in a model of means testing," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 122(C).
    2. Sebhatu, Abiel & Wennberg, Karl & Lakomaa, Erik & Brandén, Maria, 2020. "Work Environment and Competition in Swedish Schools, 1999-2011," Ratio Working Papers 330, The Ratio Institute.
    3. Edmark, Karin & Persson, Lovisa, 2020. "The Impact of Attending An Independent Upper Secondary School: Evidence from Sweden Using School Ranking Data," Working Paper Series 2/2020, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    4. Lucas Gortázar & David Mayor & José Montalbán, 2020. "School Choice Priorities and School Segregation: Evidence from Madrid," Studies on the Spanish Economy eee2020-06, FEDEA.
    5. Pilar (P.) Garcia-Gomez & Helena M Hernandez-Pizarro & Guillem Lopez-Casasnovas & Joaquim Vidiella-Martin, 2019. "Unravelling Hidden Inequities in a Universal Public Long-Term Care System," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 19-011/V, Tinbergen Institute.
    6. Luca Tasciotti & Natascha Wagner, 2018. "How Much Should We Trust Micro-data? A Comparison of the Socio-demographic Profile of Malawian Households Using Census, LSMS and DHS data," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 30(4), pages 588-612, September.
    7. Hinnerich, Björn Tyrefors & Vlachos, Jonas, 2017. "The impact of upper-secondary voucher school attendance on student achievement. Swedish evidence using external and internal evaluations," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 1-14.
    8. Fabre, Anaïs & Straub, Stéphane, 2019. "The Economic Impact of public private partnerships (PPPs) in Infrastructure, Health and Education: A Review," TSE Working Papers 19-986, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    9. David N. Figlio & Cassandra M.D. Hart & Krzysztof Karbownik, 2020. "Effects of Scaling Up Private School Choice Programs on Public School Students," NBER Working Papers 26758, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Richard J. Murnane & Marcus R. Waldman & John B. Willett & Maria Soledad Bos & Emiliana Vegas, 2017. "The Consequences of Educational Voucher Reform in Chile," NBER Working Papers 23550, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Karbownik, Krzysztof, 2020. "The effects of student composition on teacher turnover: Evidence from an admission reform," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 75(C).
    12. W. Bentley MacLeod & Miguel Urquiola, 2018. "Is Education Consumption or Investment? Implications for the Effect of School Competition," NBER Working Papers 25117, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Gajardo, Felipe & Grau, Nicolás, 2019. "Competition among schools and educational quality: Tension between various objectives of educational policy," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 123-133.
    14. Navarro-Palau, Patricia, 2017. "Effects of differentiated school vouchers: Evidence from a policy change and date of birth cutoffs," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 86-107.
    15. Edmark, Karin & Hussain, Iftikhar & Haelermans, Carla, 2020. "The Impact of Voucher Schools: Evidence From Swedish Upper Secondary Schools," Working Paper Series 3/2020, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    16. Béatrice Boutchenik & Pauline Givord & Olivier Monso, 2020. "How do restrictive zoning and parental choices impact social diversity in schools?: A methodological contribution to the decomposition of segregation indices applied to France," Sciences Po publications 105, Sciences Po.
    17. Andrabi, Tahir & Das, Jishnu & Khwaja, Asim Ijaz & Ozyurt, Selcuk & Singh, Niharika, 2018. "Upping the Ante: The Equilibrium Effects of Unconditional Grants to Private Schools," Working Paper Series rwp18-019, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    18. Miguel Urquiola, 2015. "Progress and challenges in achieving an evidence-based education policy in Latin America and the Caribbean," Latin American Economic Review, Springer;Centro de Investigaciòn y Docencia Económica (CIDE), vol. 24(1), pages 1-30, December.
    19. Baum, Donald R., 2018. "Private school vouchers in developing countries: A survey of the evidence," SocArXiv 6j7qp, Center for Open Science.
    20. Tomori, Françeska, 2018. "Mixed Duopoly in Education with Vouchers," Working Papers 2072/306548, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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