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Parental choice of primary school in England: what ‘type’ of school do parents choose?

Author

Listed:
  • Simon Burgess
  • Ellen Greaves
  • Anna Vignoles
  • Deborah Wilson

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Abstract

We investigate the central premise of the theory of markets in education, namely that parents value academic standards. We ask what parents really want from schools and whether different types of parents have similar preferences. We examine parents’ stated preferences and revealed preferences for schools (their actual choice of school as opposed to what they say they value in a school). More educated and higher socio-economic status (SES) parents are more likely to cite academic standards, whilst less educated and lower SES parents are more likely to cite proximity. More advantaged parents choose better performing schools, particularly in areas with many schools and therefore a lot of potential school choice. More advantaged parents also choose schools with much lower proportions of pupils eligible for free school meals, relative to other schools available to them. Hence whilst parents do not admit to choosing schools on the basis of their social composition, this happens in practice. Most parents get their first choice of school (94%) and this holds both for more and less advantaged parents, though this is partially because poorer parents make more ‘realistic’, i.e. less ambitious, choices. If, in areas where there is a lot of potential competition between schools, more advantaged families have a higher chance of achieving their more ambitious choices that do poorer parents, this could tend to exacerbate social segregation in our schools.

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Burgess & Ellen Greaves & Anna Vignoles & Deborah Wilson, 2009. "Parental choice of primary school in England: what ‘type’ of school do parents choose?," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 09/224, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  • Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:09/224
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    File URL: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cmpo/publications/papers/2009/wp224.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gregory R. Weiher & Kent L. Tedin, 2002. "Does choice lead to racially distinctive schools? Charter schools and household preferences," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(1), pages 79-92.
    2. Mark Schneider & Gregory Elacqua & Jack Buckley, 2006. "School choice in Chile: Is it class or the classroom?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(3), pages 577-601.
    3. Justine S. Hastings & Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2005. "Parental Preferences and School Competition: Evidence from a Public School Choice Program," NBER Working Papers 11805, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Simon Burgess & Ellen Greaves & Anna Vignoles & Deborah Wilson, 2015. "What Parents Want: School Preferences and School Choice," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(587), pages 1262-1289, September.
    5. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2007. "What Do Parents Value in Education? An Empirical Investigation of Parents' Revealed Preferences for Teachers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1603-1637.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Piergiacomo Sibiano & Giuseppe Catalano, 2010. "Investigating school autonomy: a comparison between England and Italy," Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación volume 5,in: María Jesús Mancebón-Torrubia & Domingo P. Ximénez-de-Embún & José María Gómez-Sancho & Gregorio Gim (ed.), Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación 5, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 8, pages 155-184 Asociación de Economía de la Educación.
    2. Calsamiglia, Caterina & Güell, Maia, 2014. "The Illusion of School Choice: Empirical Evidence from Barcelona," IZA Discussion Papers 8202, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Rebecca Allen & Simon Burgess & Tomas Key, 2010. "Choosing secondary school by moving house: school quality and the formation of neighbourhoods," DoQSS Working Papers 10-21, Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London.
    4. Machin, Stephen & Wyness, Gill & McNally, Sandra, 2013. "Education in a devolved Scotland: a quantitative analysis," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 57971, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Stephen Machin & Sandra McNally, 2012. "The Evaluation of English Education Policies," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 219(1), pages 15-25, January.
    6. Caterina Calsamiglia & Chao Fu & Maia Güell, 2014. "Structural Estimation of a Model of School Choices: the Boston Mechanism vs. Its Alternatives," Working Papers 2014-21, FEDEA.
    7. Allen, Rebecca & Burgess, Simon, 2013. "Evaluating the provision of school performance information for school choice," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 175-190.
    8. repec:esr:resser:bkmnext221 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    school preferences; school choice; parental choice;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General

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