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Ability tracking, school competition, and the distribution of educational benefits

Listed author(s):
  • Epple, Dennis
  • Newlon, Elizabeth
  • Romano, Richard

To study the effects of ability grouping on school competition, we develop a theoretical and computational model of tracking in public and private schools. We examine tracking's consequences for the allocation of students of differing abilities and income within and between public and private schools. Private schools tend to attract the most able and wealthiest students, and rarely track in equilibrium. Public sector schools can maximize attendance by tracking students. Public schools retain a greater proportion of higher-ability students by tracking, but lose more wealthy, lower-ability students to the private sector. Consequently, socioeconomic status is a predictor of track assignment in public schools. For the entire population, public-sector tracking has small aggregate effects on achievement and welfare, but results in significant redistribution from lower- to higher-ability students.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 83 (2002)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 1-48

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:83:y:2002:i:1:p:1-48
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Laura M. Argys & Daniel I. Rees & Dominic J. Brewer, 1996. "Detracking America's schools: Equity at zero cost?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(4), pages 623-645.
  2. Arnott, Richard & Rowse, John, 1987. "Peer group effects and educational attainment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 287-305, April.
  3. Nechyba, Thomas J, 1999. " School Finance Induced Migration and Stratification Patterns: The Impact of Private School Vouchers," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 1(1), pages 5-50.
  4. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
  5. Figlio, David N. & Page, Marianne E., 2002. "School Choice and the Distributional Effects of Ability Tracking: Does Separation Increase Inequality?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 497-514, May.
  6. Kenny, Lawrence W., 1982. "Economies of scale in schooling," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 1-24, February.
  7. Robert H. Haveman & Barbara L. Wolfe, 1984. "Schooling and Economic Well-Being: The Role of Nonmarket Effects," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(3), pages 377-407.
  8. Henderson, Vernon & Mieszkowski, Peter & Sauvageau, Yvon, 1978. "Peer group effects and educational production functions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 97-106, August.
  9. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
  10. Dennis Epple & Richard Romano, 2008. "Educational Vouchers And Cream Skimming," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1395-1435, November.
  11. Dennis N. Epple & Richard Romano, 2003. "Neighborhood Schools, Choice, and the Distribution of Educational Benefits," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of School Choice, pages 227-286 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Zimmerman, David J, 1992. "Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 409-429, June.
  13. Rees, Daniel I. & Argys, Laura M. & Brewer, Dominic J., 1996. "Tracking in the United States: Descriptive statistics from NELS," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 83-89, February.
  14. Scotchmer, Suzanne, 1997. "On price-taking equilibria in club economies with nonanonymous crowding," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 75-88, July.
  15. Summers, Anita A & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1977. "Do Schools Make a Difference?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 639-652, September.
  16. Scotchmer, Suzanne & Wooders, Myrna Holtz, 1987. "Competitive equilibrium and the core in club economies with anonymous crowding," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 159-173, November.
  17. 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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