IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

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


  • Sietske Waslander

    (University of Tilburg)

  • Cissy Pater
  • Maartje van der Weide


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Sietske Waslander & Cissy Pater & Maartje van der Weide, 2010. "Markets in Education: An Analytical Review of Empirical Research on Market Mechanisms in Education," OECD Education Working Papers 52, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:eduaab:52-en

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Thieme, Claudio & Prior, Diego & Tortosa-Ausina, Emili, 2013. "A multilevel decomposition of school performance using robust nonparametric frontier techniques," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 104-121.
    2. Berthold Norbert & Gründler Klaus, 2014. "Empirie sozialer Mobilität und wirtschaftspolitische Implikationen / The Determinants of Social Mobility and their Implications for Economic Policy," ORDO. Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, De Gruyter, vol. 65(1), pages 279-302, January.
    3. repec:eee:injoed:v:59:y:2018:i:c:p:20-27 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:injoed:v:60:y:2018:i:c:p:100-112 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oec:eduaab:52-en. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.