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Is Privatization through Education Vouchers Really the Answer? A Comment

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  • Carnoy, Martin

Abstract

Government-financed school vouchers promise to improve consumer choice while still providing the public funding needed for families to invest adequately in their children's education. But politically and in practice, the choice that vouchers offer can mean many things, from eliminating neighborhood residency as a condition for attending a public school to allowing groups of parents and teachers to form their own public schools (charter schools in the United States, for example). And it can mean an educational system that is in part publicly funded but that is privately owned and operated with no public regulation. Choice through vouchers can also produce undesirable side effects that more than offset their optimistic promises. In this context, E. G. West presents a particular version of the case for vouchers. Although he allows for a range of possibilities, he puts primary emphasis on the privatization of education. This version of choice has to be distinguished from one that limits increased choice to public schools and from the use of vouchers to improve education for the poor. The three emphases are different, mainly in what they contend are the social benefits and costs of various degrees of choice. Whereas the case presented by West may appeal at an abstract level, I argue that the evidence supporting it is at best mixed and possibly negative.

Suggested Citation

  • Carnoy, Martin, 1997. "Is Privatization through Education Vouchers Really the Answer? A Comment," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 12(1), pages 105-116, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:12:y:1997:i:1:p:105-16
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Willms, J. Douglas & Echols, Frank & Willms, J. Douglas, 1992. "Alert and inert clients: The Scottish experience of parental choice of schools," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 339-350, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bearse, Peter & Cardak, Buly A. & Glomm, Gerhard & Ravikumar, B., 2013. "Why do education vouchers fail at the ballot box?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 26-37.
    2. Jaag, Christian, 2006. "School Competition," MPRA Paper 339, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Cristian Aedo & Claudio Sapelli, "undated". "El Sistema De Vouchers En La Educación: Una Revisión De La Teoría Y La Evidencia Empírica Para Chile," ILADES-Georgetown University Working Papers inv133, Ilades-Georgetown University, Universidad Alberto Hurtado/School of Economics and Bussines.
    4. Rómulo A. Chumacero & Juan Gallegos Mardones & Ricardo D. Paredes, 2016. "Competition Pressures and Academic Performance in Chile," Estudios de Economia, University of Chile, Department of Economics, vol. 43(2 Year 20), pages 217-232, December.
    5. repec:aea:jeclit:v:55:y:2017:i:2:p:441-92 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Dennis Epple & Richard E. Romano & Miguel Urquiola, 2017. "School Vouchers: A Survey of the Economics Literature," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(2), pages 441-492, June.
    7. Jere R. Behrman & Michela M. Tincani & Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2016. "Teacher Quality in Public and Private Schools under a Voucher System: The Case of Chile," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(2), pages 319-362.
    8. Aline Coudouel & Stefano Paternostro, 2005. "Analyzing the Distributional Impact of Reforms : A Practioner's Guide to Trade, Monetary and Exchange Rate Policy, Utility Provision, Agricultural Markets, Land Policy and Education, Volume 1," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7251.
    9. Francisco Gallego, 2002. "Competencia y Resultados Educativos: Teoría y Evidencia para Chile," Latin American Journal of Economics-formerly Cuadernos de Economía, Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile., vol. 39(118), pages 309-352.
    10. Francisco A. Gallego, 2004. "School Choice, Incentives, and Academic Outcomes: Evidence from Chile," Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings 39, Econometric Society.
    11. Andrea Tokman, 2004. "Education and Economic Growth in Chile," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 289, Central Bank of Chile.

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