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Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze? A Benefit/Cost Analysis of the District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program

  • Patrick J. Wolf


    (Department of Education Reform, University of Arkansas)

  • Michael McShane


    (Research Fellow in Education Policy, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC)

Registered author(s):

    School voucher programs have become a prominent aspect of the education policy landscape in the United States. The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program is the only federally funded voucher program in the United States. Since 2004 it has offered publicly funded private school vouchers to nearly four thousand students to attend any of seventy-three different private schools in Washington, DC. An official experimental evaluation of the program, sponsored by the federal government's Institute of Education Sciences, found that the students who were awarded Opportunity Scholarships graduated from high school at a rate 12 percentage points higher than the students in the randomized control group. This article estimates the benefit/cost ratio of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, primarily by considering the increased graduation rate that it induced and the estimated positive economic returns to increased educational attainment. We find a benefit to cost ratio of 2.62, or $2.62 in benefits for every dollar spent on the program. © 2013 Association for Education Finance and Policy

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    Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Education Finance and Policy.

    Volume (Year): 8 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 1 (January)
    Pages: 74-99

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    Handle: RePEc:tpr:edfpol:v:8:y:2013:i:1:p:74-99
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    1. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    3. Jaeger, David A & Page, Marianne E, 1996. "Degrees Matter: New Evidence on Sheepskin Effects in the Returns to Education," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 733-40, November.
    4. Hungerford, Thomas & Solon, Gary, 1987. "Sheepskin Effects in the Returns to Education," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(1), pages 175-77, February.
    5. Neal, Derek, 1997. "The Effects of Catholic Secondary Schooling on Educational Achievement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 98-123, January.
    6. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2004. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 155-189, March.
    7. Henry M. Levin, 1998. "Educational vouchers: Effectiveness, choice, and costs," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(3), pages 373-392.
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