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Disruption versus Tiebout Improvement: The Costs and Benefits of Switching Schools

  • Eric A. Hanushek
  • John F. Kain
  • Steven G. Rivkin

Most students change schools at some point in their academic careers, but some change very frequently and some schools experience a great deal of turnover. Many researchers, teachers, and administrators argue that mobility harms students, particularly disadvantaged students in high turnover, inner city schools. On the other hand, economists emphasize the importance of Tiebout type moves to procure better school quality. Empirical research on mobility has yielded inconclusive results, no doubt in part because of small sample sizes and the difficulty of separating mobility effects from other confounding factors. This paper develops a general theoretical model that identifies school quality changes resulting from moving. The empirical analysis, which exploits the rich longitudinal data of the UTD Texas Schools Project, disentangles the disruption effects associated with moves from changes in school quality. The results suggest that there is a small average increase in school quality for district switchers, while there is no evidence that those switching schools within districts obtain higher school quality on average. Perhaps most important for policy, the results also show a significant externality from moves: students in schools with high turnover suffer a disadvantage, and the cost is largest for lower income and minority students who typically attend much higher turnover schools.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8479.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8479.

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Date of creation: Sep 2001
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Publication status: published as Hanushek, Eric A., John F. Kain and Steven G. Rivkin. "Disruption Versus Tiebout Improvements: The Costs And Benefits Of Switching Schools," Journal of Public Economics, 2004, v88(9-10,Aug), 1721-1746.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8479
Note: CH LE PE ED
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Jacob M. Markman & Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin, 2003. "Does peer ability affect student achievement?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(5), pages 527-544.
  2. Steven G. Rivkin & Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain, 2005. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 417-458, 03.
  3. Thomas J. Nechyba, 2000. "Mobility, Targeting, and Private-School Vouchers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 130-146, March.
  4. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "The Effects Of Class Size On Student Achievement: New Evidence From Population Variation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1239-1285, November.
  5. Sandra E. Black, 1997. "Do better schools matter? Parental valuation of elementary education," Research Paper 9729, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  6. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E, 1998. "Competition between Private and Public Schools, Vouchers, and Peer-Group Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 33-62, March.
  7. Raquel Fernandez & Richard Rogerson, 1997. "Education finance reform: A dynamic perspective," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 67-84.
  8. Julie Berry Cullen & Brian Jacob & Steven Levitt, 2000. "The Impact of School Choice on Student Outcomes: An Analysis of the Chicago Public Schools," NBER Working Papers 7888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Wildasin, David E., 1987. "Theoretical analysis of local public economics," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: E. S. Mills (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 29, pages 1131-1178 Elsevier.
  10. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
  11. Weimer, David L. & Wolkoff, Michael J., 2001. "School Performance and Housing Values: Using Non-Contiguous District and Incorporation Boundaries to Identify School Effects," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 54(n. 2), pages 231-54, June.
  12. Hanushek, Eric A, 1992. "The Trade-Off between Child Quantity and Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 84-117, February.
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