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Choice and Competition in Local Education Markets

  • Patrick Bayer
  • Robert McMillan

Prompted by widespread concerns about public school quality, a growing empirical literature has measured the effects of greater choice on school performance. This paper contributes to that literature in three ways. First, it makes the observation that the overall effect of greater choice, which has been the focus of prior research, can be decomposed into demand and supply components: knowing the relative sizes of the two is very relevant for policy. Second, using rich data from a large metropolitan area, it provides a direct and intuitive measure of the competition each school faces. This takes the form of a school-specific elasticity that measures the extent to which reductions in school quality would lead to reductions in demand. Third, the paper provides evidence that these elasticity measures are strongly related to school performance: a one-standard deviation increase in the competitiveness of a school's local environment within the Bay Area leads to a 0.15 standard deviation increase in average test scores. This positive correlation is robust and is consistent with strong supply responsiveness on the part of public schools, of relevance to the broader school choice debate.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11802.

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Date of creation: Nov 2005
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11802
Note: ED PE
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  1. Sandra E. Black, 1999. "Do Better Schools Matter? Parental Valuation Of Elementary Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 577-599, May.
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  4. Eric A. Hanushek & Steven G. Rivkin, 2003. "Does Public School Competition Affect Teacher Quality?," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of School Choice, pages 23-48 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  6. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2003. "The Economics of School Choice," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number hox03-1, August.
  7. Epple, Dennis & Figlio, David & Romano, Richard, 2004. "Competition between private and public schools: testing stratification and pricing predictions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1215-1245, July.
  8. Patrick Bayer & Fernando Ferreira & Robert McMillan, 2007. "A Unified Framework for Measuring Preferences for Schools and Neighborhoods," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(4), pages 588-638, 08.
  9. Dennis Epple & Thomas Romer & Holger Sieg, 2001. "Interjurisdictional Sorting and Majority Rule: An Empirical Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1437-1465, November.
  10. Fernando Ferreira, 2008. "You Can Take it With You: Proposition 13 Tax Benefits, Residential Mobility, and Willingness to Pay for Housing Amenities," Working Papers 08-15, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  11. 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.
  12. Daniel Millimet; Vasudha Rangaprasad, 2004. "Strategic Competition Amongst Public Schools," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 197, Econometric Society.
  13. Barrow, Lisa & Rouse, Cecilia Elena, 2004. "Using market valuation to assess public school spending," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1747-1769, August.
  14. Roland Benabou, 1991. "Workings of a City: Location, Education, and Production," NBER Technical Working Papers 0113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Epple, Dennis & Filimon, Radu & Romer, Thomas, 1984. "Equilibrium among local jurisdictions: toward an integrated treatment of voting and residential choice," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 281-308, August.
  16. 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.
  17. Patrick Bayer & Robert McMillan & Kim Rueben, 2004. "An Equilibrium Model of Sorting in an Urban Housing Market," NBER Working Papers 10865, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Fernandez, Raquel & Rogerson, Richard, 1996. "Income Distribution, Communities, and the Quality of Public Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 135-64, February.
  19. Hanushek, Eric A. & Rivkin, Steven G., 2006. "Teacher Quality," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  20. Borland, Melvin V. & Howsen, Roy M, 1992. "Student academic achievement and the degree of market concentration in education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 31-39, March.
  21. Berry, Steven & Levinsohn, James & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Automobile Prices in Market Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 841-90, July.
  22. Nechyba, Thomas J, 1999. " School Finance Induced Migration and Stratification Patterns: The Impact of Private School Vouchers," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 1(1), pages 5-50.
  23. Walsh, Randy, 2007. "Endogenous open space amenities in a locational equilibrium," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 319-344, March.
  24. D. N. Figlio & J. A. Stone, . "School Choice and Student Performance: Are Private Schools Really Better?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1141-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
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