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Choice in International Contexts. Eric Bettinger Stanford University School of Education 10 may 2010. School Choice and Vouchers Abroad. School Choice Takes Many Forms Abroad Educational Vouchers Contract Schools Open Enrollment Privately Financed Initiatives

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choice in international contexts

Choice in International Contexts

Eric Bettinger

Stanford University

School of Education

10 may 2010

school choice and vouchers abroad
School Choice and Vouchers Abroad
  • School Choice Takes Many Forms Abroad
    • Educational Vouchers
    • Contract Schools
    • Open Enrollment
    • Privately Financed Initiatives
  • Vouchers are More Integral to Many Educational Systems Abroad Than to the US
    • National Voucher Systems in Chile, Sweden
    • Targeted Voucher Programs
      • Means-Tested: Puerto Rico, Colombia
      • Women: Bangladesh
  • International Literature is still in its infancy in many ways
international evidence and the us
International Evidence and the US
  • Design of School Systems
  • Limits to Generalizeability
    • Political Circumstances
    • Institutions
    • Funding Schemes
  • Role of Private Sector
  • Motivation for Voucher Systems
    • Market Forces
    • Equality of Opportunity
    • Overcrowding
    • Decentralization
why look internationally
Why Look Internationally?
  • Most Voucher Literature is From the US
  • International programs are much larger than in the US
    • Chile, Bangladesh, Colombia
  • Long-run Equilibrium?
    • Chile’s voucher program is now almost 30 years old
  • Existing funding systems and institutions may make vouchers more feasible
  • Many previous reviews: Neal (2002), West (1996), Zimmer and Bettinger (2008), Wößmann (2007)
plan of talk
Plan of Talk
  • Discuss Major Research Questions in Int’l Voucher Literature
  • Major Voucher Programs
    • Chile
    • Colombia
  • Effects of Vouchers on Voucher Users
  • Effects of Vouchers on Overall System
key research questions
Key Research Questions
  • How do Vouchers Affect Students Who Use Them?
    • Academic Outcomes
    • Non-Academic Outcomes
    • Heterogeneous Outcomes
    • Cost Effectiveness
    • Mechanisms?
  • How do Vouchers Affect the System as a Whole?
    • School Entry and Exit
    • Overall Attainment and Outcomes
    • School Staffing
    • Competition and Resource Loss
why study voucher users
Why Study Voucher Users?
  • Policy relevance
    • Motivation for many policies
  • Part of knowing overall impact of system
    • Depends on size of system
  • Sheds light on other educational questions
    • Effect of private schools
    • Peer groups
    • School Organization
    • Cost Effectiveness
overall impact of the voucher
Overall Impact of the Voucher
  • Efficiency of Overall System
    • Friedman (1955)
    • Tiebout Competition (1956)
  • Alternative Explanations
    • Resource Loss
    • Limits on Competition
    • Sorting
international voucher programs
International Voucher Programs









The Netherlands

New Zealand


Puerto Rico


United Kingdom

chilean voucher program
Chilean Voucher Program
  • Part of Larger Decentralization Effort by Pinochet Government in 1980
  • All students were eligible
    • Starting in 2008, “bonus” subsidy for admitting low-income student
  • Increase in Private Schooling
    • 15% in 1981 to 42 percent in 2005
  • Public, Voucher, and Private Non-Voucher
    • “Topping Off” Allowed in 1993
  • Selective Admission Policies in Voucher Schools
attendance across sectors in chile
Attendance Across Sectors in Chile

Source: Bravo, Mukhopadhyay, and Todd (2009)

colombia voucher program
Colombia Voucher Program
  • From 1992 to 1997, Decentralization Effort by Colombian Government
    • Goal to Improve Secondary School Enrollment
  • Means-Tested
    • Focus on Students Entering Secondary School (Grade 6)
    • Students Coming From Public Sector
    • Covered About 144,000 Students
  • Admissions
    • Students had to be admitted at a voucher school prior to voucher application
    • Vouchers assigned by lottery if oversubscribed
  • Voucher Value
    • Declined over time from 100 to 50 percent
enrollment rates in colombia 1993
Enrollment Rates in Colombia, 1993

Source: Sanchez and Mendes, 1995

effect on users
Effect on Users
  • Not clear what to expect
    • Imagine that the voucher at least does no harm
      • Parents can always reverse decision
      • However, “original” school may be altered by voucher program
  • Raw correlations
    • Colombia: voucher schools have similar outcomes to public schools (King et al 1997)
    • Chile: comparisons depend on types of covariates included (McEwan and Carnoy 2000)
  • Cleanest evidence to date is from Colombia
    • Uses randomization to identify the voucher
evidence from colombia
Evidence from Colombia
  • Angrist, Bettinger, Bloom, King, Kremer (AER 2002)
    • Surveyed Voucher Applicants from Bogotá 1995 Lottery
    • Compared Voucher Lottery Winners and Losers
    • Effects after Three Years
  • Angrist, Bettinger, and Kremer (AER 2006)
    • Administrative Data on All Applicants
    • Compared College Entrance Exam Scores
effects on users colombia
Effects on Users: Colombia
  • Effects after 3 Years
    • Increased Usage of Private Schools
    • Higher Educational Attainment
    • No Difference in Drop-out Rates
    • Less Grade Repetition
    • Higher Test Scores
    • Less Incidence of Teen-age Employment
  • Long-Run Effects
    • 30 percent of Voucher Applicants Take College Entrance Exam
    • Increase of 7 percentage points for Voucher Winners
    • 25 Percent Relative Effect
    • Impact on Test Scores
users evidence from chile
Users: Evidence from Chile
  • Hard to Interpret
    • Counterfactual hard to identify
    • New private schools and rapid entry into the market
    • Were “control” students affected
  • Conclusion depends on Covariates
    • Some Evidence of Positive Effects on Users (e.g. Sappelli and Vial 2002)
    • Evidence is Largely Mixed as to Whether Vouchers Improve Outcomes (McEwan and Carnoy 2000)
evidence on users mechanisms
Evidence on Users: Mechanisms
  • Randomization facilitates identification of “intent to treat” parameter in Colombia
    • Does not help identify specific mechanisms
  • Possible mechanisms
    • Private schools are better
      • But school quality was the same (King et al 1997)
    • Peers are better
      • Bettinger, Kremer, and Saavedra (2008) examine vocational school applicants
        • Winners “stuck” in vocational schools – peers are worse
        • Winners outcomes are better despite worse peers
    • Voucher included incentives
      • Students lost voucher if they failed.
      • Alternative was labor force participation
effect on overall system
Effect on Overall System
  • Competing Hypotheses
    • Competition
    • Resource Loss
      • Loss of money from enrollment depends on average versus marginal cost
      • Marginal cost of leavers is likely lower than average cost
    • Inability to close public schools in Chile
  • Raw Correlation
    • Positive relationship between degree of private competition and outcomes (Wößmann 2009)
  • Lack of pre-program data for Chile
evidence on system chile
Evidence on System: Chile
  • Hsieh and Urquiola (2006)
    • Difference-in-Differences approach
      • Compare areas with significant increase in private school to those without
    • Average test scores do not rise
      • Vouchers resort peers. Best students move to private voucher schools.
    • Some outcomes (e.g. grade repetition) are worse
  • Gallego (2005, 2007)
    • Instrumental Variable approach
      • Uses stock of Catholic priests in 1980 as instrument
    • Immediate expansion of parochial schools led overall outcomes of all schools to improve
evidence on system chile21
Evidence on System: Chile
  • Bravo, Mukhopadyay, and Todd (2009)
    • Life-cycle model of earnings and schooling decisions
    • Use labor force data for individuals educated before and after the voucher reform
    • Estimate impact of choosing private school
    • Simulate what educational attainment would have been in absence of the program.
      • Positive impacts on educational attainment, high school graduation, college attendance and graduation, and wages
evidence on systemic effects other countries
Evidence on Systemic Effects: Other Countries
  • Sweden
    • Comparisons based on penetration of private sector
      • Sandstrom and Bergstrom (2005): Positive effects on overall system
    • Value-added comparisons
      • Ahlin (2003): Positive effects on overall system
  • Israel
    • Open enrollment => Positive Effects Lavy (2006)
  • UK
    • Relationship between degree of choice and outcomes (Gibbons, Machin, and Silva 2008)
      • Small, positive effects.
evidence on systemic effects india experiment
Evidence on Systemic Effects: India Experiment
  • Kremer and Muralidharan experiment
    • Sample of communities who “might be eligible for voucher study”
      • Gathered applications
    • Matched randomization on which communities received voucher
      • Comparisons between non-applicants across voucher and non-voucher cities
    • Within communities with vouchers, lotteries determine voucher assignment
      • Differences across users
    • Preliminary results positive on both accounts
future directions
Future Directions
  • Other Outcomes
    • Parents choose schools for non-academic reasons
      • How do these outcomes vary?
    • Wage impacts
      • Bravo et al (2009) is first study to explore
  • Cost Effectiveness
    • Few studies so far
    • Public expenditure on vouchers generally smaller
  • Mechanisms
  • Staffing issues
  • International Voucher Literature in Infancy
    • Significant contributions in last few years
  • Effects on Users
    • Positive Effects from Colombia
    • Not clear on the mechanisms and the importance of the voucher for the effects
    • Chilean evidence is hard to interpret
      • Growing consensus of positive effects
  • Effects on System
    • Positive Effects in Chile
    • Comparisons of areas with and without voucher penetration
    • More evidence arriving soon