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Parental Preferences and School Competition: Evidence from a Public School Choice Program

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  • Justine S. Hastings
  • Thomas J. Kane
  • Douglas O. Staiger

Abstract

This paper uses data from the implementation of a district-wide public school choice plan in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina to estimate preferences for school characteristics and examine their implications for the local educational market. We use parental rankings of their top three choices of schools matched with student demographic and test score data to estimate a mixed-logit discrete choice demand model for schools. We find that parents value proximity highly and the preference attached to a school's mean test score increases with student's income and own academic ability. We also find considerable heterogeneity in preferences even after controlling for income, academic achievement and race, with strong negative correlations between preferences for academics and school proximity. Simulations of parental responses to test score improvements at a school suggest that the demand response at high-performing schools would be larger than the response at low-performing schools, leading to disparate demand-side pressure to improve performance under school choice.

Suggested Citation

  • Justine S. Hastings & Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2005. "Parental Preferences and School Competition: Evidence from a Public School Choice Program," NBER Working Papers 11805, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11805 Note: CH ED PE IO
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dubin, Jeffrey A & McFadden, Daniel L, 1984. "An Econometric Analysis of Residential Electric Appliance Holdings and Consumption," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 345-362, March.
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    5. Caroline Minter Hoxby, 1994. "Do Private Schools Provide Competition for Public Schools?," NBER Working Papers 4978, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    7. 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.
    8. Dagsvik, John K, 1994. "Discrete and Continuous Choice, Max-Stable Processes, and Independence from Irrelevant Attributes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(5), pages 1179-1205, September.
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    12. Gordon B. Dahl, 2002. "Mobility and the Return to Education: Testing a Roy Model with Multiple Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2367-2420, November.
    13. Daniel P. Mayer & Paul E. Peterson & David E. Myers & Christina Clark Tuttle & William G. Howell, 2002. "School Choice in New York City After Three Years: An Evaluation of the School Choice Scholarships Program," Mathematica Policy Research Reports bd29adb569094778a5981be0e, Mathematica Policy Research.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I0 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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