IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Public Subsidies to Private Schools Do Make a Difference for Achievement in Mathematics: Longitudinal Evidence from Canada

  • Pierre Lefebvre
  • Philip Merrigan

Selection into private schools is the principal cause of bias when estimating the effect of private schooling on academic achievement. By exploiting the generous public subsidizing of private high schools in the province of Québec, the second most populous province in Canada, we identify the causal impact of attendance in a private high school on achievement in mathematics. Because the supply of highly subsidized spaces is much higher at the high school level than at the grade school level, 60% of transitions from the public to private sector occur at the end of grade school, we assume that these transitions are exogenous with respect to changes in transitory unobserved variables affecting math scores conditional on variables such as changes in income and child fixed effects. Using data from Statistics Canada’s National Longitudinal Survey on Children and Youth (NLSCY), we estimate the effect of attending a private high school on the percentile rank and a standardized math test score with different models (child fixed-effect, random-effect and a pooled OLS) and restricted samples to control for the degree of selection. The results, interpreted as a treatment on the treated effect show that the effect of changing schools, from a public grade school to a private high school, increases the percentile rank of the math score between 5 and 10 points and by between .13 to .35 of a standard deviation depending on the specifications and samples.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by CIRPEE in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 0935.

in new window

Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:0935
Contact details of provider: Postal: CP 8888, succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC H3C 3P8
Phone: (514) 987-8161
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Ron W Zimmer & Eugenia F Toma, 2000. "Peer effects in private and public schools across countries," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(1), pages 75-92.
  2. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2009. "Do Better Schools Lead to More Growth? Cognitive Skills, Economic Outcomes, and Causation," NBER Working Papers 14633, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2008. "The Role of Cognitive Skills in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(3), pages 607-68, September.
  4. repec:mpr:mprres:6210 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Yann Bramoullé & Habiba Djebbari & Bernard Fortin, 2007. "Identification of Peer Effects through Social Networks," Cahiers de recherche 0705, CIRPEE.
  6. 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.
  7. Dee, Thomas S. & Fu, Helen, 2004. "Do charter schools skim students or drain resources?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 259-271, June.
  8. Levine, David I. & Painter, Gary, 2008. "Are measured school effects just sorting?: Causality and correlation in the National Education Longitudinal Survey," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 460-470, August.
  9. 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.
  10. Walton, Nina, 2010. "The price of admission: Who gets into private school, and how much do they pay?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 738-750, October.
  11. Boucher, Vincent & Bramoullé, Yann & Djebbari, Habiba & Fortin, Bernard, 2010. "Do Peers Affect Student Achievement? Evidence from Canada Using Group Size Variation," IZA Discussion Papers 4723, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Kenneth Y. Chay & Patrick J. McEwan & Miguel Urquiola, 2005. "The Central Role of Noise in Evaluating Interventions That Use Test Scores to Rank Schools," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1237-1258, September.
  13. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
  14. 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.
  15. Walsh, Patrick, 2009. "Effects of school choice on the margin: The cream is already skimmed," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 227-236, April.
  16. Cohen-Zada, D., 2009. "An alternative instrument for private school competition," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 29-37, February.
  17. Patrick McEwan, 2001. "The Effectiveness of Public, Catholic, and Non-Religious Private Schools in Chile's Voucher System," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2), pages 103-128.
  18. Horowitz, John B. & Spector, Lee, 2005. "Is there a difference between private and public education on college performance?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 189-195, April.
  19. Derek Neal, 1998. "What have we learned about the benefits of private schooling?," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Mar, pages 79-86.
  20. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 151-184, February.
  21. Ashenfelter, Orley C, 1978. "Estimating the Effect of Training Programs on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(1), pages 47-57, February.
  22. Liu, Haiyong & Mroz, Thomas A. & van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2010. "Maternal employment, migration, and child development," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 156(1), pages 212-228, May.
  23. 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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:lvl:lacicr:0935. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Manuel Paradis)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.