Are Educational Vouchers Only Redistributive?

25 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2010

See all articles by Eric Bettinger

Eric Bettinger

Case Western Reserve University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Michael Kremer

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Center for Global Development; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Juan Saaverda

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abstract

It is unclear if vouchers increase educational productivity or are purely redistributive, benefiting recipients by giving them access to more desirable peers at others’ expense. To examine this, we study an educational voucher programme in Colombia which allocated vouchers by lottery. Among voucher applicants to vocational schools, lottery winners were less likely to attend academic secondary schools and thus had peers with less desirable observable characteristics. Despite this, lottery winners had better educational outcomes. In this population, vouchers improved educational outcomes through channels beyond redistribution of desirable peers. We discuss potential channels which may explain the observed effects.

Suggested Citation

Bettinger, Eric and Kremer, Michael R. and Saaverda, Juan, Are Educational Vouchers Only Redistributive?. The Economic Journal, Vol. 120, Issue 546, pp. F204-F228, August 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1645551 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0297.2010.02374.x

Eric Bettinger (Contact Author)

Case Western Reserve University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Michael R. Kremer

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Brookings Institution

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Center for Global Development

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Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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Juan Saaverda

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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