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Parental Preferences and School Competition: Evidence from a Public School Choice Program

  • Hastings, Justine S.

    (Yale U)

  • Kane, Thomas J.

    (U of California, Los Angeles)

  • Staiger, Douglas O.

    (Dartmouth College)

This paper uses data from the implementation of a district-wide public school choice plan in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina to estimate preferences for school characteristics and examine their implications for the local educational market. We use parental rankings of their top three choices of schools matched with student demographic and test score data to estimate a mixed-logit discrete choice demand model for schools. We find that parents value proximity highly and the preference attached to a school's mean test score increases with student's income and own academic ability. We also find considerable heterogeneity in preferences even after controlling for income, academic achievement and race, with strong negative correlations between preferences for academics and school proximity. Simulations of parental responses to test score improvements at a school suggest that the demand response at high-performing schools would be larger than the response at low-performing schools, leading to disparate demand-side pressure to improve performance under school choice. Moreover, given the greater sensitivity to school test scores among high-income and high-scoring youth, the marginal students attracted when a school improves performance would typically raise the average income and baseline test score at the school.

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Paper provided by Yale University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 10.

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Date of creation: Nov 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecl:yaleco:10
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  1. Caroline Minter Hoxby, 1994. "Do Private Schools Provide Competition for Public Schools?," NBER Working Papers 4978, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Levinsohn, James & Berry, Steven & Pakes, Ariel, 2004. "Differentiated Products Demand Systems from a Combination of Micro and Macro Data: The New Car Market," Scholarly Articles 3436404, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Gordon B. Dahl, 2002. "Mobility and the Return to Education: Testing a Roy Model with Multiple Markets," RCER Working Papers 488, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  4. Krueger, Alan B. & Zhu, Pei, 2002. "Another Look at the New York City School Voucher Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 663, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. 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.
  6. Daniel P. Mayer & Paul E. Peterson & David E. Myers & Christina Clark Tuttle & William G. Howell, 2002. "School Choice in New York City After Three Years: An Evaluation of the School Choice Scholarships Program," Mathematica Policy Research Reports bd29adb569094778a5981be0e, Mathematica Policy Research.
  7. Schelling, Thomas C, 1969. "Models of Segregation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 488-93, May.
  8. Dagsvik, John K, 1994. "Discrete and Continuous Choice, Max-Stable Processes, and Independence from Irrelevant Attributes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(5), pages 1179-1205, September.
  9. Caroline Minter Hoxby, 1994. "Does Competition Among Public Schools Benefit Students and Taxpayers?," NBER Working Papers 4979, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Dubin, Jeffrey A & McFadden, Daniel L, 1984. "An Econometric Analysis of Residential Electric Appliance Holdings and Consumption," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 345-62, March.
  11. repec:mpr:mprres:3180 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 841-90, July.
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