Disruption Versus Tiebout Improvement: The Costs and Benefits of Switching Schools

47 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2001 Last revised: 24 Oct 2010

See all articles by Eric A. Hanushek

Eric A. Hanushek

Stanford University - Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

John F. Kain

University of Texas at Dallas - Cecil and Ida Green Center for the Study of Science and Society

Steven G. Rivkin

Amherst College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: September 2001

Abstract

Most students change schools at some point in their academic careers, but some change very frequently and some schools experience a great deal of turnover. Many researchers, teachers, and administrators argue that mobility harms students, particularly disadvantaged students in high turnover, inner city schools. On the other hand, economists emphasize the importance of Tiebout type moves to procure better school quality. Empirical research on mobility has yielded inconclusive results, no doubt in part because of small sample sizes and the difficulty of separating mobility effects from other confounding factors. This paper develops a general theoretical model that identifies school quality changes resulting from moving. The empirical analysis, which exploits the rich longitudinal data of the UTD Texas Schools Project, disentangles the disruption effects associated with moves from changes in school quality. The results suggest that there is a small average increase in school quality for district switchers, while there is no evidence that those switching schools within districts obtain higher school quality on average. Perhaps most important for policy, the results also show a significant externality from moves: students in schools with high turnover suffer a disadvantage, and the cost is largest for lower income and minority students who typically attend much higher turnover schools.

Suggested Citation

Hanushek, Eric A. and Kain, John F. and Rivkin, Steven G., Disruption Versus Tiebout Improvement: The Costs and Benefits of Switching Schools (September 2001). NBER Working Paper No. w8479. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=283351

Eric A. Hanushek (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-6010
United States
650-736-0942 (Phone)
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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John F. Kain

University of Texas at Dallas - Cecil and Ida Green Center for the Study of Science and Society ( email )

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United States
(972) 883-2555 (Phone)
(972) 883-2551 (Fax)

Steven G. Rivkin

Amherst College - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002-5000
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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