Does Choice Increase Information? Evidence from Online School Search Behavior

54 Pages Posted: 30 May 2017

See all articles by Michael Lovenheim

Michael Lovenheim

Cornell University - Department of Policy Analysis and Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Patrick Walsh

St. Michael's College - Department of Economics

Date Written: May 2017

Abstract

We examine whether changes in the local school choice environment affect the amount of information parents collect about local school quality, using data on over 100 million searches from greatschools.org. We link monthly data on search frequency in local “Search Units” to information on changes in open enrollment policies, tuition vouchers, charitable scholarship tax credits, tuition tax credits, local choice opportunities driven by No Child Left Behind sanctions and charter school penetration. Our results indicate that expansions in school choice rules and opportunities in a given area have large, positive effects on the frequency of searches done for schools in that area. These estimates suggest that the information parents have about local schools is endogenous to the choice environment they face, and that parental information depends not just on the availability of data, but also the incentive to seek and use it.

Suggested Citation

Lovenheim, Michael and Walsh, Patrick, Does Choice Increase Information? Evidence from Online School Search Behavior (May 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23445. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2976185

Michael Lovenheim (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Department of Policy Analysis and Management ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Patrick Walsh

St. Michael's College - Department of Economics ( email )

SMC Box 38
One Winooski Park
Colchester, VT 05439
United States

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