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An alternative instrument for private school competition


  • Cohen-Zada, D.


Empirical studies estimating the effect of private school competition on student outcomes commonly use the share of Catholics in the local population as an instrument for private school competition. I show that this is not a valid instrument since it is endogenous to private school competition and suggest using instead the local share of Catholics in the population in 1890 and its squared term. These instruments are very strong and are also exogenous to both student achievements and private school competition. I further show that using the current Catholic share as an instrument results in seriously flawed estimates of the effect of private school competition on math test scores and on educational attainment, to the extent that significant positive effects of private school competition on these outcome measures do not hold when the historical Catholic share in 1890 is used as an alternative instrument. The historical Catholic share in 1890 can also be applied to estimate the treatment effect of Catholic schools.

Suggested Citation

  • Cohen-Zada, D., 2009. "An alternative instrument for private school competition," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 29-37, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:28:y:2009:i:1:p:29-37

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sander, William, 2010. "Religious background and educational attainment: The effects of Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 489-493, June.
    2. repec:eee:jeborg:v:137:y:2017:i:c:p:191-213 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Nghiem, Hong Son & Nguyen, Ha Trong & Khanam, Rasheda & Connelly, Luke B., 2015. "Does school type affect cognitive and non-cognitive development in children? Evidence from Australian primary schools," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 55-65.
    4. Cohen-Zada, Danny & Elder, Todd, 2009. "Historical religious concentrations and the effects of Catholic schooling," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 65-74, July.
    5. Cardak, Buly A. & Vecci, Joe, 2013. "Catholic school effectiveness in Australia: A reassessment using selection on observed and unobserved variables," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 34-45.
    6. Rebecca Allen & Anna Vignoles, 2016. "Can school competition improve standards? The case of faith schools in England," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 50(3), pages 959-973, May.
    7. Oliver Falck & Ludger Woessmann, 2013. "School competition and students’ entrepreneurial intentions: international evidence using historical Catholic roots of private schooling," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 459-478, February.
    8. Lefebvre, Pierre & Merrigan, Philip & Verstraete, Matthieu, 2011. "Public subsidies to private schools do make a difference for achievement in mathematics: Longitudinal evidence from Canada," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 79-98, February.
    9. Kim, Young-Joo, 2011. "Catholic schools or school quality? The effects of Catholic schools on labor market outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 546-558, June.
    10. Chudgar, Amita & Quin, Elizabeth, 2012. "Relationship between private schooling and achievement: Results from rural and urban India," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 376-390.
    11. Green, Colin P. & Navarro-Paniagua, María & Ximénez-de-Embún, Domingo P. & Mancebón, María-Jesús, 2014. "School choice and student wellbeing," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 139-150.
    12. Gihleb, Rania & Giuntella, Osea, 2017. "Nuns and the effects of catholic schools. Evidence from Vatican II," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 191-213.
    13. Coughlin, Conor & Castilla, Carolina, 2014. "The effect of private high school education on the college trajectory," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 125(2), pages 200-203.
    14. Richard J. Cebula & Joshua C. Hall & Maria Y. Tackett, 2017. "Non-public competition and public school performance: evidence from West Virginia," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(12), pages 1185-1193, March.
    15. Carattini, Juliana F. & Dills, Angela K. & Mulholland, Sean E. & Sederberg, Rachel B., 2012. "Catholic schools, competition, and public school quality," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(1), pages 334-336.
    16. Y.E. Akgündüz & J. Plantenga, 2013. "Competition for a better future? Effects of competition on child care quality," Working Papers 13-14, Utrecht School of Economics.


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