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Does Abolishing Fees Reduce School Quality? Evidence from Kenya

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

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.

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File URL: http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/workingpapers/pdfs/csae-wps-2011-04.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2011-04.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2011-04
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  1. Jessica Cohen & Pascaline Dupas, 2010. "Free Distribution or Cost-Sharing? Evidence from a Randomized Malaria Prevention Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 1-45, February.
  2. 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.
  3. Nava Ashraf & James Berry & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2007. "Can Higher Prices Stimulate Product Use? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Zambia," NBER Working Papers 13247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Duflo, Esther & Dupas, Pascaline & Kremer, Michael, 2008. "Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya," CEPR Discussion Papers 7043, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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