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Anti-Lemons: School Reputation, Relative Diversity, and Educational Quality

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  • MacLeod, W. Bentley

    () (Columbia University)

  • Urquiola, Miguel

    () (Columbia University)

Abstract

Friedman (1962) observed that the ability of firms to acquire and maintain reputations for quality is a key ingredient for the efficient provision of goods and services in a market economy. This paper explores the implications of school reputation for skill acquisition and labor market outcomes in an otherwise competitive market. We find that reputation effects can explain several puzzling findings in the economics of education, including the fact that competition can, but does not always, improve skill acquisition. This result follows from an anti-lemons effect (in contrast to Akerlof's lemons effect) that arises when schools can enhance their reputation by positively selecting their students. This leads to excess demand for "high quality" selective schools that drive out non-selective schools. This in turn reduces "relative diversity", a measure of ability dispersion in a school, leading to lower skill acquisition.

Suggested Citation

  • MacLeod, W. Bentley & Urquiola, Miguel, 2012. "Anti-Lemons: School Reputation, Relative Diversity, and Educational Quality," IZA Discussion Papers 6805, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6805
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Arnott, Richard & Rowse, John, 1987. "Peer group effects and educational attainment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 287-305, April.
    2. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters,in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Lisa Barrow & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 2008. "School vouchers and student achievement: recent evidence, remaining questions," Working Paper Series WP-08-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    4. Dennis Epple & Richard Romano, 2008. "Educational Vouchers And Cream Skimming," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1395-1435, November.
    5. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1.
    6. Philip Babcock & Mindy Marks, 2011. "The Falling Time Cost of College: Evidence from Half a Century of Time Use Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 468-478, May.
    7. C. Kirabo Jackson, 2010. "Do Students Benefit from Attending Better Schools? Evidence from Rule-based Student Assignments in Trinidad and Tobago," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(549), pages 1399-1429, December.
    8. Jesse M. Rothstein, 2006. "Good Principals or Good Peers? Parental Valuation of School Characteristics, Tiebout Equilibrium, and the Incentive Effects of Competition among Jurisdictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1333-1350, September.
    9. Mizala, Alejandra & Urquiola, Miguel, 2013. "School markets: The impact of information approximating schools' effectiveness," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 313-335.
    10. Fabian Lange, 2007. "The Speed of Employer Learning," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 1-35.
    11. MacLeod, Bentley, 2009. "Anti-Lemons: School Reputation and Educational Quality," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt3rc708kd, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    12. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E, 1998. "Competition between Private and Public Schools, Vouchers, and Peer-Group Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 33-62, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Volker Meier & Ioana Cosmina Schiopu, 2015. "Why Academic Quality in Higher Education Declines," CESifo Working Paper Series 5480, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. MacLeod, W. Bentley & Urquiola, Miguel, 2012. "Competition and Educational Productivity: Incentives Writ Large," IZA Discussion Papers 7063, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    education; reputation; competition; labor markets;

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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