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From Forced Busing to Free Choice in Public Schools: Quasi-Experimental Evidence of Individual and General Effects

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  • Victor Lavy

Abstract

In 1994 the city of Tel Aviv replaced its existing school integration program based on inter-district busing, with a new program that allowed students to choose freely between schools in and out of district. This paper explores the impact of this program on high school outcomes while distinguishing the effect of choice on individual students from general equilibrium effects on affected districts. The identification is based on a regression discontinuity design that yields comparison groups drawn from untreated tangent neighborhoods in adjacent cities and on instrumental variables. The results suggest that the choice program had significant general equilibrium effects on high school dropout rates, matriculation rates and program of study. The gains are more pronounced among disadvantaged children but not among students who took advantage of the option to attend out of district schools with higher mean outcomes. These results and other evidence related to the behavioral responses of schools and students to the program suggest that the positive impact of the program is mainly due to better matching between students and schools and to productivity effects of choice and competition among schools.

Suggested Citation

  • Victor Lavy, 2006. "From Forced Busing to Free Choice in Public Schools: Quasi-Experimental Evidence of Individual and General Effects," NBER Working Papers 11969, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11969
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2002. "School Choice and School Productivity (or Could School Choice be a Tide that Lifts All Boats?)," NBER Working Papers 8873, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Sandra E. Black, 1999. "Do Better Schools Matter? Parental Valuation of Elementary Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 577-599.
    3. Joshua Angrist & Eric Bettinger & Michael Kremer, 2004. "Long-Term Consequences of Secondary School Vouchers: Evidence from Administrative Records in Colombia," NBER Working Papers 10713, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Ahlin, Åsa, 2003. "Does School Competition Matter? Effects of a Large-Scale School Choice Reform on Student Performance," Working Paper Series 2003:2, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    5. Cullen, Julie Berry & Jacob, Brian A. & Levitt, Steven D., 2005. "The impact of school choice on student outcomes: an analysis of the Chicago Public Schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 729-760, June.
    6. Hastings, Justine S. & Kane, Thomas J. & Staiger, Douglas O., 2005. "Parental Preferences and School Competition: Evidence from a Public School Choice Program," Working Papers 10, Yale University, Department of Economics.
    7. Jonathan Guryan, 2004. "Desegregation and Black Dropout Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 919-943, September.
    8. repec:mpr:mprres:3180 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Joshua Angrist & Eric Bettinger & Erik Bloom & Elizabeth King & Michael Kremer, 2002. "Vouchers for Private Schooling in Colombia: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1535-1558, December.
    10. Sandström, F. Mikael & Bergström, Fredrik, 2002. "School Vouchers in Practice: Competition Won't Hurt You!," Working Paper Series 578, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    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. Krueger, Alan B. & Zhu, Pei, 2002. "Another Look at the New York City School Voucher Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 663, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. 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.
    14. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 2002. "The Effect of High School Matriculation Awards: Evidence from Randomized Trials," NBER Working Papers 9389, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Cecilia Elena Rouse, 1998. "Private School Vouchers and Student Achievement: An Evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 553-602.
    16. Bradley, Steve & Johnes, Geraint & Millington, Jim, 2001. "The effect of competition on the efficiency of secondary schools in England," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 135(3), pages 545-568, December.
    17. Jesse Rothstein, 2005. "Does Competition Among Public Schools Benefit Students and Taxpayers? A Comment on Hoxby (2000)," NBER Working Papers 11215, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    19. Patrick Bayer & Robert McMillan, 2005. "Choice and Competition in Local Education Markets," NBER Working Papers 11802, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Simon Burgess & Ellen Greaves & Anna Vignoles & Deborah Wilson, 2015. "What Parents Want: School Preferences and School Choice," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(587), pages 1262-1289, September.
    2. Martin Schlotter & Guido Schwerdt & Ludger Woessmann, 2011. "Econometric methods for causal evaluation of education policies and practices: a non-technical guide," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(2), pages 109-137.
    3. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2010. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 281-355, June.
    4. Justin van de Ven & Cain Polidano & Sarah Voitchovsky, 2017. "The power of self-interest: Effects of subsidies for adult education and training," National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) Discussion Papers 480, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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