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Demand (and Supply) in an Inter-District Public School Choice Program


  • Randall Reback

    () (Barnard College, Columbia University)


This study examines parents’ demand for sending their children to a public school located outside their residential school district. Using a unique data set that contains information concerning both inter-district transfers and rejections of transfer applications, I am able to identify which school district characteristics attract the greatest demand for incoming transfers. The analyses reveal that mean student test scores are stronger predictors of transfer demand than both students’ socio-economic characteristics and school district spending, suggesting that parents care more about outcomes than inputs. In addition, while districts are only supposed to reject transfer students due to capacity concerns, districts’ supply decisions are also correlated with differences in student performance across neighboring districts.

Suggested Citation

  • Randall Reback, 2004. "Demand (and Supply) in an Inter-District Public School Choice Program," Working Papers 0501, Barnard College, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2006.
  • Handle: RePEc:brn:wpaper:0501

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sandra E. Black, 1999. "Do Better Schools Matter? Parental Valuation of Elementary Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 577-599.
    2. Cullen, Julie Berry & Jacob, Brian A. & Levitt, Steven D., 2005. "The impact of school choice on student outcomes: an analysis of the Chicago Public Schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 729-760, June.
    3. Hastings, Justine S. & Kane, Thomas J. & Staiger, Douglas O., 2005. "Parental Preferences and School Competition: Evidence from a Public School Choice Program," Working Papers 10, Yale University, Department of Economics.
    4. Barrow, Lisa, 2002. "School choice through relocation: evidence from the Washington, D.C. area," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 155-189, November.
    5. David E. Campbell & Martin R. West & Paul E. Peterson, 2005. "Participation in a national, means-tested school voucher program," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(3), pages 523-541.
    6. Patrick Bayer & Fernando Ferreira & Robert McMillan, 2004. "Tiebout Sorting, Social Multipliers and the Demand for School Quality," NBER Working Papers 10871, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Julie Berry Cullen & Brian A. Jacob & Steven Levitt, 2003. "The Effect of School Choice on Student Outcomes: Evidence from Randomized Lotteries," NBER Working Papers 10113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Reback, Randall, 2005. "House prices and the provision of local public services: capitalization under school choice programs," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 275-301, March.
    9. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2005. "What Do Parents Value in Education? An Empirical Investigation of Parents' Revealed Preferences for Teachers," NBER Working Papers 11494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Welsch, David M. & Statz, Bambi & Skidmore, Mark, 2010. "An examination of inter-district public school transfers in Wisconsin," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 126-137, February.
    2. Welsch, David M. & Zimmer, David M., 2012. "Do student migrations affect school performance? Evidence from Wisconsin's inter-district public school program," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 195-207.
    3. Cory Koedel & Julian R. Betts & Lorien A. Rice & Andrew C. Zau, 2009. "The Social Cost of Open Enrollment as a School Choice Policy," Working Papers 0906, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 13 Apr 2010.
    4. Takashi Oshio & Shinpei Sano & Yuko Ueno & Kouichiro Mino, 2010. "Evaluations by parents of education reforms: evidence from a parent survey in Japan," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(2), pages 229-246.
    5. Brunner, Eric J. & Cho, Sung-Woo & Reback, Randall, 2012. "Mobility, housing markets, and schools: Estimating the effects of inter-district choice programs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(7), pages 604-614.
    6. repec:kap:poprpr:v:36:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s11113-017-9435-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Soma Ghosh, 2013. "Participation in school choice: a spatial probit analysis of neighborhood influence," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 50(1), pages 295-313, February.
    8. David M. Welsch & David M. Zimmer, 2015. "The Relationship Between Student Transfers and District Academic Performance: Accounting for Feedback Effects," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 10(3), pages 399-422, July.

    More about this item


    school choice; inter-district open enrollment; public school demand;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General

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