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School Competition and Efficiency with Publicly Funded Catholic Schools

  • David Card
  • Martin Dooley
  • Abigail Payne

The province of Ontario has two publicly funded school systems: secular schools (known as public schools) that are open to all students, and separate schools that are open to children with Catholic backgrounds. The systems are administered independently and receive equal funding per student. In this paper we use detailed school and student-level data to assess whether competition between the systems leads to improved efficiency. Building on a simple model of school choice, we argue that incentives for effort will be greater in areas where there are more Catholic families, and where these families are less committed to a particular system. To measure the local determinants of cross-system competition we study the effects of school openings on enrollment growth at nearby elementary schools. We find significant cross-system responses to school openings, with a magnitude that is proportional to the fraction of Catholics in the area, and is higher in more rapidly growing areas. We then test whether schools that face greater cross-system competition have higher productivity, as measured by test score gains between 3rd and 6th grade. We estimate a statistically significant but modest-sized impact of potential competition on the growth rate of student achievement. The estimates suggest that extending competition to all students would raise average test scores in 6th grade by 6-8% of a standard deviation.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14176.

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Date of creation: Jul 2008
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Publication status: published as David Card & Martin D. Dooley & A. Abigail Payne, 2010. "School Competition and Efficiency with Publicly Funded Catholic Schools," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 150-76, October.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14176
Note: ED LS
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  1. 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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  10. Ahlin, ├ůsa, 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.
  11. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2002. "An Evaluation of Instrumental Variable Strategies for Estimating the Effects of Catholic Schools," NBER Working Papers 9358, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  13. 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.
  14. Lehrer, Evelyn L., 2005. "Religious Affiliation and Participation as Determinants of Women's Educational Attainment and Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 1725, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. 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.
  16. Gibbons, Steve & Machin, Stephen & Silva, Olmo, 2006. "Choice, Competition and Pupil Achievement," IZA Discussion Papers 2214, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Aviv Nevo, 2000. "A Practitioner's Guide to Estimation of Random-Coefficients Logit Models of Demand," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(4), pages 513-548, December.
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  19. Thomas J. Nechyba, 2000. "Mobility, Targeting, and Private-School Vouchers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 130-146, March.
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  21. Hsieh, Chang-Tai & Urquiola, Miguel, 2006. "The effects of generalized school choice on achievement and stratification: Evidence from Chile's voucher program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1477-1503, September.
  22. 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.
  23. Jepsen, Christopher, 2002. "The role of aggregation in estimating the effects of private school competition on student achievement," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 477-500, November.
  24. Evans, William N & Schwab, Robert M, 1995. "Finishing High School and Starting College: Do Catholic Schools Make a Difference?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(4), pages 941-74, November.
  25. 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.
  26. Jaag, Christian, 2006. "School Competition," MPRA Paper 339, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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