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Markets in Education: An Analytical Review of Empirical Research on Market Mechanisms in Education

Listed author(s):
  • Sietske Waslander

    (University of Tilburg)

  • Cissy Pater
  • Maartje van der Weide
Registered author(s):

    In the last three decennia, many governments have introduced market mechanisms in education. They have done so by enhancing parental choice and encouraging school competition, through policies like abolishing catchment areas, creating voucher programmes and setting up charter schools. These market mechanisms have given rise to fierce debates in both political and scientific circles. However, most prior reviews of research literature in this area have concluded that the effects of market mechanisms in education are small, if they are found at all. This review tries to answer the question why that is the case, by analysing the causal pathways that link market mechanisms to educational outcomes and by reviewing the empirical evidence for each step along those causal pathways. The findings of this review point to the need for a nuanced and qualified discussion about market mechanisms in education. What market mechanisms mean in actual practice strongly depends on (local) contexts, while the impact of market mechanisms is related to other policies impacting on parental choice behaviour as well as actions taken by schools. Au cours des trois dernières décennies, de nombreux gouvernements dans le monde entier ont introduit des mécanismes de marché au sein de leur système éducatif. Ils ont procédé ainsi en valorisant le choix des parents d’élèves et en encourageant la compétition scolaire à travers des politiques telles que l’abolition des zones scolaires, la création de programmes accessibles à l’aide de chèques scolaires, et mise en place des écoles à charte. Ces mécanismes de marché ont donné naissance à des débats passionnés dans les milieux politiques et scientifiques. Cependant, les toutes premières recherches dans ce secteur ont conclu que les effets des mécanismes de marché dans le secteur éducatif sont mineurs, lorsqu’ils sont déterminés. Cette étude essaie de comprendre pourquoi il en est ainsi en analysant la chaîne causale qui lie les mécanismes de marché aux résultats dans le secteur éducatif, en passant en revue les données empiriques à chaque étape du processus. Les résultats de cette étude soulignent le besoin d’un débat nuancé et modéré sur les mécanismes de marché dans l’éducation. Ce que mécanismes de marché signifie en pratique dépend fortement du contexte, alors que l’impact des mécanismes de marché est lié à d’autres politiques qui influencent le choix des parents d’élèves ainsi que les actions mises en place dans les écoles.

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    Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Education Working Papers with number 52.

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    Date of creation: 21 Oct 2010
    Handle: RePEc:oec:eduaab:52-en
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