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Effects of school choice on the margin: The cream is already skimmed

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  • Walsh, Patrick

Abstract

Critics of school choice argue that cream-skimming will worsen outcomes for those left behind in public schools. Since "high ability" families may have already sorted themselves out of the schools in question, this paper will examine whether existing within-school heterogeneity leaves any scope for cream-skimming to operate. It asks, "given the current level of within-school heterogeneity, how strong would peer effects have to be to significantly worsen outcomes for those left behind?" In order for cream-skimming to lower math test scores by one half-year's progress, the peer effect would have to be as strong as increasing class sizes by 8-20 students, or cutting per-student funding by $400-2000. These results indicate that current levels of within-school heterogeneity are so low that peer effects would have to be unrealistically strong to give cream-skimming any bite.

Suggested Citation

  • Walsh, Patrick, 2009. "Effects of school choice on the margin: The cream is already skimmed," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 227-236, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:28:y:2009:i:2:p:227-236
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lankford, Hamilton & Wyckoff, James, 2001. "Who Would Be Left Behind by Enhanced Private School Choice?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 288-312, September.
    2. Adnett, Nick & Bougheas, Spiros & Davies, Peter, 2002. "Market-based reforms of public schooling: some unpleasant dynamics," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 323-330, August.
    3. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416-416.
    4. Elizabeth M. Caucutt, 2002. "Educational Vouchers When There Are Peer Group Effects--Size Matters," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(1), pages 195-222, February.
    5. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E, 1998. "Competition between Private and Public Schools, Vouchers, and Peer-Group Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 33-62, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Akyol, Metin, 2016. "Do educational vouchers reduce inequality and inefficiency in education?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 149-167.
    2. 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.
    3. Schneider, Kerstin & Schuchart, Claudia & Weishaupt, Horst & Riedel, Andrea, 2012. "The effect of free primary school choice on ethnic groups — Evidence from a policy reform," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 430-444.

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    Keywords

    School choice Privatization;

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