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Does Abolishing Fees Reduce School Quality? Evidence from Kenya

Author

Listed:
  • Tessa Bold
  • Mwangi Kimenyi
  • Germano Mwabu
  • Justin Sandefur

Abstract

In 2003 Kenya abolished user fees in all government primary schools. We find that this Free Primary Education (FPE) policy resulted in a decline in public school quality and increased demand for private schooling. However, the former did not reflect a decline in value added by public schools – as anticipated if fees contribute to local accountability – but rather the selection of weaker pupils into free education. In contrast, affluent children who exited to the private sector in response to FPE benefited from a strong, causal effect on their exam performance which is robust to selection on unobserved ability.

Suggested Citation

  • Tessa Bold & Mwangi Kimenyi & Germano Mwabu & Justin Sandefur, 2011. "Does Abolishing Fees Reduce School Quality? Evidence from Kenya," CSAE Working Paper Series 2011-04, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2011-04
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    File URL: http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/csae-wps-2011-04.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cox, Donald & Jimenez, Emmanuel, 1990. "The relative effectiveness of private and public schools : Evidence from two developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 99-121, November.
    2. Esther Duflo & Pascaline Dupas & Michael Kremer, 2011. "Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 1739-1774, August.
    3. Nava Ashraf & James Berry & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2010. "Can Higher Prices Stimulate Product Use? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Zambia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2383-2413, December.
    4. Jessica Cohen & Pascaline Dupas, 2010. "Free Distribution or Cost-Sharing? Evidence from a Randomized Malaria Prevention Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 1-45.
    5. Hsieh, Chang-Tai & Urquiola, Miguel, 2006. "The effects of generalized school choice on achievement and stratification: Evidence from Chile's voucher program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1477-1503, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Frédéric Lesne, 2013. "School Fees, Parental Participation and Accountability: Evidence from Madagascar," Working Papers halshs-00825244, HAL.
    2. Adrienne M. Lucas & Isaac M. Mbiti, 2012. "Access, Sorting, and Achievement: The Short-Run Effects of Free Primary Education in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 226-253, October.
    3. Taylor, Stephen & Spaull, Nicholas, 2015. "Measuring access to learning over a period of increased access to schooling: The case of Southern and Eastern Africa since 2000," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 47-59.
    4. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00825240 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    user fees; school quality; private schools;

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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