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School Choice, Stratification and Information on School Performance: Lessons from Chile


  • Patrick J. McEwan
  • Miguel Urquiola
  • Emiliana Vegas


Chile´s experience suggests that we have much to learn about the consequences of education reform, especially school choice, and why it has not resulted in learning gains of the magnitude one might have predicted. This paper addresses these issues in two ways. First, we review the previous literature on the impact of choice in Chile, focusing on the effects on average student achievement and stratification.To shed additional light on this debate, we present new evidence from a regression-discontinuity design that supports previous findings that school choice-at least as it has been implemented until now-has increased stratification while having little effect on average achievement. Second, we explore some factors that may explain why the evolution of school quality in Chile has been disappointing. We focus on the difficulties researchers have encountered in generating and interpreting information on school performance."

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick J. McEwan & Miguel Urquiola & Emiliana Vegas, 2008. "School Choice, Stratification and Information on School Performance: Lessons from Chile," Economía Journal, The Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association - LACEA, vol. 0(Spring 20), pages 1-42, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000425:008613

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    Cited by:

    1. León, Gianmarco & Valdivia, Martín, 2015. "Inequality in school resources and academic achievement: Evidence from Peru," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 71-84.
    2. W. Bentley MacLeod & Miguel Urquiola, 2009. "Anti-Lemons: School Reputation and Educational Quality," NBER Working Papers 15112, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. 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.
    4. Herskovic, Luis, 2020. "The Effect of Subway Access on School Choice," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    5. Gabriela Toledo Román & Juan Pablo Valenzuela, 2015. "Over-estimating the effects of teacher attributes on school performance in the Chilean education system," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 42(1 Year 20), pages 99-128, June.
    6. Menezes-Filho, Naercio & Moita, Rodrigo & Andrade, Eduardo, 2012. "Entry in School Markets: Theory and Evidence from Brazilian Municipalities," Insper Working Papers wpe_284, Insper Working Paper, Insper Instituto de Ensino e Pesquisa.
    7. Ortega, Daniel E., 2009. "Human Development of Peoples," MPRA Paper 19232, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. MacLeod, W. Bentley & Urquiola, Miguel, 2012. "Anti-Lemons: School Reputation, Relative Diversity, and Educational Quality," IZA Discussion Papers 6805, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Francisco Meneses, 2021. "Intergenerational Mobility After Expanding Educational Opportunities: A Quasi Experiment," Working Papers 586, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    10. Cuesta, José Ignacio & González, Felipe & Larroulet Philippi, Cristian, 2020. "Distorted quality signals in school markets," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 147(C).
    11. Nancy Birdsall, Nora Lustig, Christian Meyer, 2013. "The Strugglers: The New Poor in Latin America?-Working Paper 337," Working Papers 337, Center for Global Development.
    12. Michela M. Tincani, 2021. "Teacher labor markets, school vouchers, and student cognitive achievement: Evidence from Chile," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 12(1), pages 173-216, January.
    13. Alejandro Arenas Alzate, 2021. "Mejores colegios en Colombia: efecto de las condiciones socioeconómicas sobre el desempeno escolar," Documentos de Trabajo CIEF 19829, Universidad EAFIT.
    14. MacLeod, W. Bentley & Urquiola, Miguel, 2012. "Competition and Educational Productivity: Incentives Writ Large," IZA Discussion Papers 7063, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    15. McEwan, Patrick J., 2013. "The impact of Chile's school feeding program on education outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 122-139.
    16. Andrade, Eduardo de Carvalho, 2009. "Rankings em educação: tipos, problemas, informações e mudanças," Insper Working Papers wpe_198, Insper Working Paper, Insper Instituto de Ensino e Pesquisa.
    17. Gabriel Heller Sahlgren, 2014. "Handing Over the School Keys: The Impact of Privatisation on Education Quality," Economic Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(2), pages 196-210, June.
    18. 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.
    19. Birdsall, Nancy & Lustig, Nora & Meyer, Christian J., 2014. "The Strugglers: The New Poor in Latin America?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 132-146.
    20. Francesca Marchetta & Tom Dilly, 2019. "Supporting Education in Africa: Opportunities and Challenges for an Impact Investor," Working Papers hal-02288103, HAL.
    21. Ainhoa Vega-Bayo & Petr Mariel, 2019. "A Discrete Choice Experiment Application to School Choice in the Basque Country," Hacienda Pública Española / Review of Public Economics, IEF, vol. 230(3), pages 41-62, September.

    More about this item


    School choice; stratification; student performance; Chile;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education


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