Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=977406
 
 

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Preferences, Information, and Parental Choice Behavior in Public School Choice


Justine S. Hastings


Brown University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Richard Van Weelden


University of Chicago - Department of Economics

Jeffrey Weinstein


Syracuse University - Department of Economics

March 2007

NBER Working Paper No. w12995

Abstract:     
The incentives and outcomes generated by public school choice depend to a large degree on parents' choice behavior. There is growing empirical evidence that low-income parents place lower weights on academics when choosing schools, but there is little evidence as to why. We use a field experiment in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public School district (CMS) to examine the degree to which information costs impact parental choices and their revealed preferences for academic achievement. We provided simplified information sheets on school average test scores or test scores coupled with estimated odds of admission to students in randomly selected schools along with their CMS school choice forms. We find that receiving simplified information leads to a significant increase in the average test score of the school chosen. This increase is equivalent to a doubling in the implicit preference for academic performance in a random utility model of school choice. Receiving information on odds of admission further increases the effect of simplified test score information on preferences for test scores among low-income families, but dampens the effect among higher-income families. Using within-family changes in choice behavior, we provide evidence that the estimated impact of simplified information is more consistent with lowered information costs than with suggestion or saliency.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 38

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Date posted: April 6, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Hastings, Justine S. and Van Weelden, Richard and Weinstein, Jeffrey, Preferences, Information, and Parental Choice Behavior in Public School Choice (March 2007). NBER Working Paper No. w12995. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=977406

Contact Information

Justine Hastings (Contact Author)
Brown University ( email )
Box 1860
Providence, RI 02912
United States
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Richard Van Weelden
University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )
1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
Jeffrey Weinstein
Syracuse University - Department of Economics ( email )
Syracuse, NY
United States
(315) 443-9046 (Phone)
(315) 443-1081 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://faculty.maxwell.syr.edu/jmwein04/
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