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Independent schools and long-run educational outcomes – evidence from Sweden´s large scale voucher reform

Author

Listed:
  • Böhlmark, Anders

    () (SOFI, Stockholm University)

  • Lindahl, Mikael

    () (Department of Economics, Uppsala University)

Abstract

This paper evaluates average educational performance effects of an expanding independent- school sector at the compulsory level by assessing a radical voucher reform that was implemented in Sweden in 1992. Starting from a situation where all public schools were essentially local monopolists, the degree of independent schools has developed very differently across municipalities over time as a result of this reform. We regress the change in educational performance outcomes on the increase in the share of independent-school students between Swedish municipalities. We find that an increase in the share of independent-school students improves average performance at the end of compulsory school as well as long-run educational outcomes. We show that these effects are very robust with respect to a number of potential issues, such as grade inflation and pre-reform trends. However, for most outcomes, we do not detect positive and statistically significant effects until approximately a decade after the reform. This is notable, but not surprising given that it took time for independent schools to become more than a marginal phenomenon in Sweden. We do not find positive effects on school expenditures. Hence, the educational performance effects are interpretable as positive effects on school productivity. We further find that the average effects primarily are due to external effects (e.g., school competition), and not that independent-school students gain significantly more than public-school students.

Suggested Citation

  • Böhlmark, Anders & Lindahl, Mikael, 2012. "Independent schools and long-run educational outcomes – evidence from Sweden´s large scale voucher reform," Working Paper Series 2012:19, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2012_019
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. David Card & Martin D. Dooley & A. Abigail Payne, 2010. "School Competition and Efficiency with Publicly Funded Catholic Schools," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 150-176, October.
    2. Esther Duflo, 2001. "Schooling and Labor Market Consequences of School Construction in Indonesia: Evidence from an Unusual Policy Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 795-813, September.
    3. Chakrabarti, Rajashri, 2008. "Can increasing private school participation and monetary loss in a voucher program affect public school performance? Evidence from Milwaukee," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1371-1393, June.
    4. Joshua Angrist & Eric Bettinger & Michael Kremer, 2006. "Long-Term Educational Consequences of Secondary School Vouchers: Evidence from Administrative Records in Colombia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 847-862, June.
    5. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Joshua D. Angrist & Susan M. Dynarski & Thomas J. Kane & Parag A. Pathak, 2011. "Accountability and Flexibility in Public Schools: Evidence from Boston's Charters And Pilots," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 699-748.
    6. Eric Bettinger & Michael Kremer & Juan E. Saavedra, 2010. "Are Educational Vouchers Only Redistributive?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(546), pages 204-228, August.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    School choice; independent schools; educational performance; external effects;

    JEL classification:

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

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