IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Why is there proportionately more enrollment in private schools in some countries?


  • James, Estelle


The proportion of students enrolled in private rather than public schools varies greatly among countries. The author tries to explain (1) the systematically higher proportion of enrollment in private schools in developing countries than in developed countries, at the secondary level, and (2) the seemingly random variation across countries within a given level of education and stage of development. The author argues that differentiated demand and nonprofit supply - both of which stem from cultural heterogeneity, especially religious heterogeneity - are the major explanations for variations in the proportion of private education within a given stage of development and educational level. By contrast, the author hypothesizes that the proportionately heavy enrollment in private secondary schools in developing countries stems from limited public spending, which creates an excess demand from people who would prefer to use the public schools but are involuntarily excluded and pushed into the private sector. Limited public spending on secondary education, in turn, is modeled as a collective decision which is strongly influenced by the numerous families that opt for many children, and that consequently can only afford to invest small amounts in each child, in developing countries. The results of regressions that determine private-sector size recursively and simultaneously with public educational spending are consistent with these hypotheses.

Suggested Citation

  • James, Estelle, 1993. "Why is there proportionately more enrollment in private schools in some countries?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1069, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1069

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jimenez, Emmanuel*Lockheed, Marlaine E.*Luna, Ed, 1989. "School effects and costs for private and public schools in the Dominican Republic," Policy Research Working Paper Series 288, The World Bank.
    2. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-1177, September.
    3. James, Estelle, 1986. "The private nonprofit provision of education: A theoretical model and application to Japan," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 255-276, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


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

    Cited by:

    1. Bray, Mark & Kwok, Percy, 2003. "Demand for private supplementary tutoring: conceptual considerations, and socio-economic patterns in Hong Kong," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(6), pages 611-620, December.
    2. repec:jle:journl:131 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Winkler, Donald R. & Rounds, Taryn, 1996. "Municipal and private sector response to decentralization and school choice," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 365-376, October.


    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:wbk:wbrwps:1069. 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: (Roula I. Yazigi). 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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.