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Long-Term Trends in Private School Enrollments by Family Income

Listed author(s):
  • Richard J. Murnane
  • Sean F. Reardon

We use data from multiple national surveys to describe trends in private elementary school enrollment by family income from 1968-2013. We note several important trends. First, the private school enrollment rate of middle-income families declined substantially over the last five decades, while that of high-income families remained quite stable. Second, there are notable differences in private school enrollment trends by race/ethnicity, urbanicity, and region of the country. Although racial/ethnic differences in private school enrollment are largely explained by income differences, the urban/suburban and regional differences in private school enrollment patterns are large even among families with similar incomes. In particular, the 90-50 income percentile difference in private school enrollment rates in 2013 is more than three times as large in cities as in the suburbs, and these gaps are larger in the South and West than in the Northeast and Midwest. Factors contributing to these patterns may include trends in income inequality, private school costs and availability, and the perceived relative quality of local schooling options.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 23571.

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Date of creation: Jul 2017
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23571
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  1. Gordon B. Dahl & Lance Lochner, 2012. "The Impact of Family Income on Child Achievement: Evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 1927-1956, August.
  2. 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.
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  8. Neal, Derek, 1997. "The Effects of Catholic Secondary Schooling on Educational Achievement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 98-123, January.
  9. C. Kirabo Jackson & Rucker C. Johnson & Claudia Persico, 2016. "The Effects of School Spending on Educational and Economic Outcomes: Evidence from School Finance Reforms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(1), pages 157-218.
  10. Sean Corcoran & William N. Evans, 2010. "Income Inequality, the Median Voter, and the Support for Public Education," NBER Working Papers 16097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Leah Boustan & Fernando Ferreira & Hernan Winkler & Eric M. Zolt, 2013. "The Effect of Rising Income Inequality on Taxation and Public Expenditures: Evidence from U.S. Municipalities and School Districts, 1970–2000," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(4), pages 1291-1302, October.
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