Public and Private School Competition: The Spatial Education Production Function
School vouchers may increase the competition public school districts face. Greater competition may spur public schools to improve student outcomes, which reliably predict labor market productivity and earnings. Previous school competition studies do not use spatial statistics; they fail to incorporate spillovers and the effect of omitted variables into their education production functions. Significant spatial effects are found in all regressions, and spatial statistics improves adjusted R-squared. There seems to be no consistent association between private school attendance rates and public school achievement, or between the number of public school districts in a county and public school performance. Competitive effects, which seem plausible in non-spatial regressions, dissipate when spatial statistics is used. When school inputs appeared statistically significant in non-spatial regressions, the spatial regressions generally made the significance disappear. Poverty appeared to depress reading and writing passage rates, but this effect disappeared in the spatial models.
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