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\"Every catholic child in a catholic school\": Historical resistance to state schooling, contemporary private competition and student achievement across countries

Listed author(s):
  • West, Martin R.
  • Wößmann, Ludger

Nineteenth-century Catholic doctrine strongly opposed state schooling. We show that countries with larger shares of Catholics in 1900 (but without a Catholic state religion) tend to have larger shares of privately operated schools even today. We use this historical pattern as a natural experiment to estimate the causal effect of contemporary private competition on student achievement in cross-country student-level analyses. Our results show that larger shares of privately operated schools lead to better student achievement in mathematics, science and reading, and to lower total education spending, even after controlling for current Catholic shares.

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Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Munich Reprints in Economics with number 19692.

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Date of creation: 2010
Publication status: Published in Economic Journal 546 120(2010): pp. F229-F255
Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenar:19692
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  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. Sascha O. Becker & Ludger Woessmann, 2009. "Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 531-596.
  3. Robert J. Barro & Rachel M. McCleary, 2005. "Which Countries Have State Religions?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1331-1370.
  4. Toma, Eugenia Froedge, 1996. "Public Funding and Private Schooling across Countries," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(1), pages 121-148, April.
  5. Dee, Thomas S., 1998. "Competition and the quality of public schools," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 419-427, October.
  6. Bishop, John, 2006. "Drinking from the Fountain of Knowledge: Student Incentive to Study and Learn - Externalities, Information Problems and Peer Pressure," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  7. William Sander, 1996. "Catholic Grade Schools and Academic Achievement," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(3), pages 540-548.
  8. Stock, James H & Wright, Jonathan H & Yogo, Motohiro, 2002. "A Survey of Weak Instruments and Weak Identification in Generalized Method of Moments," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(4), pages 518-529, October.
  9. Jepsen, Christopher, 2002. "The role of aggregation in estimating the effects of private school competition on student achievement," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 477-500, November.
  10. William N. Evans & Robert M. Schwab, 1995. "Finishing High School and Starting College: Do Catholic Schools Make a Difference?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(4), pages 941-974.
  11. Christopher Jepsen, 2003. "The Effectiveness of Catholic Primary Schooling," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(4).
  12. Caroline Minter Hoxby, 1994. "Do Private Schools Provide Competition for Public Schools?," NBER Working Papers 4978, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. William Sander, 1999. "Private Schools and Public School Achievement," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(4), pages 697-709.
  14. Martin West, 2000. "State Intervention in English Education, 1833-1891: A Public Goods and Agency Approach," Economics Series Working Papers 2000-W37, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  15. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  16. Maristella Botticini & Zvi Eckstein, 2007. "From Farmers to Merchants, Conversions and Diaspora: Human Capital and Jewish History," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(5), pages 885-926, 09.
  17. Ludger Woesmann, 2003. "Schooling Resources, Educational Institutions and Student Performance: the International Evidence," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 65(2), pages 117-170, 05.
  18. Vandenberghe, V. & Robin, S., 2004. "Evaluating the effectiveness of private education across countries: a comparison of methods," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 487-506, August.
  19. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "An Evaluation of Instrumental Variable Strategies for Estimating the Effects of Catholic Schooling," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(4), pages 791-821.
  20. Helen F. Ladd, 2002. "School Vouchers: A Critical View," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 3-24, Fall.
  21. Francisco A. Gallego, 2004. "School Choice, Incentives, and Academic Outcomes: Evidence from Chile," Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings 39, Econometric Society.
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