IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Education Vouchers in Principle and Practice: A Survey

Listed author(s):
  • West, Edwin G
Registered author(s):

    An education voucher system exists when governments make payments to families that enable their children to enter public or private schools of their choice. The tax-funded payments can be made directly to parents or indirectly to the selected schools; their purpose is to increase parental choice, to promote school competition, and to allow low-income families access to private schools. Some opponents predict that vouchers will destroy the public system, aggravate poverty, and foster segregation. Others fear that voucher-receiving independent schools will be regulated out of recognition. The main purpose of this article is to examine the recent emergence of voucher systems as an interesting phenomenon in its own right. The evidence summarized relates to voucher systems operating in twenty countries, provinces, and states. The typical "funds-follow-the-child" voucher system, in which governments subsidize "schools of choice" in strict proportion to enrollment, appears to be the favorite form. This type of voucher has been adopted by developing countries‹notably Bangladesh, Belize, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, and Lesotho‹as well as by industrial countries such as Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Much of the recorded experience with such programs is pertinent to the longstanding theoretical debates on the desirability of voucher systems.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal World Bank Research Observer.

    Volume (Year): 12 (1997)
    Issue (Month): 1 (February)
    Pages: 83-103

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:12:y:1997:i:1:p:83-103
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP, UK

    Phone: (202) 477-1234
    Fax: 01865 267 985
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    Order Information: Web:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. Friedman, Ernest H., 1993. "Letter to the editor," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 383-383, February.
    2. Levin, Henry M., 1991. "The economics of educational choice," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 137-158, June.
    3. Herbert J. Walberg and Joseph L. Bast, 1993. "School Choice: The Essential Reform," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 13(1), pages 101-121, Spring/Su.
    4. West, Edwin G., 1991. "Public schools and excess burdens," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 159-169, June.
    5. Friedman, Ernest H., 1993. "Letter to the editor," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 583-583, February.
    6. Friedman, Ernest H., 1993. "Letter to the editor," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 127-127, July.
    7. Hettich, Walter, 1969. "Mixed Public and Private Financing of Education: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(1), pages 210-212, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:12:y:1997:i:1:p:83-103. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press)

    or (Christopher F. Baum)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.