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'Every Catholic Child in a Catholic School': Historical Resistance to State Schooling, Contemporary Private Competition and Student Achievement across Countries

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  • Martin R. West
  • Ludger Woessmann

Abstract

Nineteenth-century Catholic doctrine strongly opposed state schooling. We show that countries with larger shares of Catholics in 1900 (but without a Catholic state religion) tend to have larger shares of privately operated schools even today. We use this historical pattern as a natural experiment to estimate the causal effect of contemporary private competition on student achievement in cross-country student-level analyses. Our results show that larger shares of privately operated schools lead to better student achievement in mathematics, science and reading, and to lower total education spending, even after controlling for current Catholic shares. Copyright © The Author(s). Journal compilation © Royal Economic Society 2010.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin R. West & Ludger Woessmann, 2010. "'Every Catholic Child in a Catholic School': Historical Resistance to State Schooling, Contemporary Private Competition and Student Achievement across Countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(546), pages 229-255, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:120:y:2010:i:546:p:f229-f255
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out
    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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