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The Impact of School Choice on Pupil Achievement, Segregation and Costs: Swedish Evidence

  • Böhlmark, Anders

    ()

    (SOFI, Stockholm University)

  • Lindahl, Mikael

    ()

    (Uppsala University)

This paper evaluates school choice at the compulsory-school level by assessing a reform implemented in Sweden in 1992, which opened up for publicly funded but privately operated schools. In many local school markets, this reform led to a significant increase in the quantity of such schools as well as in the share of pupils attending them. We estimate the impact of this increase in private enrolment on the average achievement of all pupils using within-municipality variation over time, and controlling for differential pre-reform municipality trends. We find that an increase in the private-school share by 10 percentage points increases average pupil achievement by almost 1 percentile rank point. We show that this total effect can be interpreted as the sum of a private-school attendance effect and a competition effect. The former effect, which is identified using variation in school choice among siblings, is found to be only a small part of the total effect. This suggests that the main part of the achievement effect is due to more competition in the school sector, forcing schools to improve their quality. We use grade point average as outcome variable. A comparison with test data suggests that our results are not driven by differential grade-setting standards in private and public schools. We further find that more competition from private schools increases school costs. There is also some evidence of sorting of pupils along socioeconomic and ethnic lines.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2786.

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Length: 65 pages
Date of creation: May 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2786
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  1. Cecilia Elena Rouse, 1998. "Private School Vouchers And Student Achievement: An Evaluation Of The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 553-602, May.
  2. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "Does Competition among Public Schools Benefit Students and Taxpayers?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1209-1238, December.
  3. Sund, Krister, 2007. "Estimating Peer Effects in Swedish High School using School, Teacher, and Student Fixed Effects," Working Paper Series 8/2007, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  4. Cutler, David M & Glaeser, Edward L, 1997. "Are Ghettos Good or Bad?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 827-72, August.
  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. Julie Berry Cullen & Brian Jacob & Steven Levitt, 2000. "The Impact of School Choice on Student Outcomes: An Analysis of the Chicago Public Schools," NBER Working Papers 7888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Martin Sˆderstrˆm & Roope Uusitalo, 2010. "School Choice and Segregation: Evidence from an Admission Reform," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 112(1), pages 55-76, 03.
  8. 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.
  9. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2005. "Competition Among Public Schools: A Reply to Rothstein (2004)," NBER Working Papers 11216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Joshua Angrist & Eric Bettinger & Erik Bloom & Elizabeth King & Michael Kremer, 2001. "Vouchers for Private Schooling in Colombia: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment," NBER Working Papers 8343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Ahlin, Åsa, 2003. "Does School Competition Matter? Effects of a Large-Scale School Choice Reform on Student Performance," Working Paper Series 2003:2, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  12. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 1999. "How Large are the Social Returns to Education? Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Laws," NBER Working Papers 7444, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Gibbons, Steve & Machin, Stephen & Silva, Olmo, 2006. "Choice, Competition and Pupil Achievement," IZA Discussion Papers 2214, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Miguel Urquiola, 2005. "Does School Choice Lead to Sorting? Evidence from Tiebout Variation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1310-1326, September.
  15. 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.
  16. Wikstrom, Christina & Wikstrom, Magnus, 2005. "Grade inflation and school competition: an empirical analysis based on the Swedish upper secondary schools," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 309-322, June.
  17. Sandstrom, F. Mikael & Bergstrom, Fredrik, 2005. "School vouchers in practice: competition will not hurt you," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 351-380, February.
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