Parental Preferences and School Competition: Evidence from a Public School Choice Program

53 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2006

See all articles by Justine S. Hastings

Justine S. Hastings

Brown University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Thomas J. Kane

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Public Policy & Social Research; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Douglas Staiger

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

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 2005

Abstract

This paper uses data from the implementation of a district-wide public school choice plan in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina to estimate preferences for school characteristics and examine the ir implications for the local educational market. We use parental rankings of their top three choices of schools matched with student demographic and test score data to estimate a mixed-logit discrete choice demand model for schools. We find that parents value proximity highly and the preference attached to a school's mean test score increases with student's income and own academic ability. We also find considerable heterogeneity in preferences even after controlling for income, academic achievement and race, with strong negative correlations between preferences for academics and school proximity. Simulations of parental responses to test score improvements at a school suggest that the demand response at high-performing schools would be larger than the response at low-performing schools, leading to disparate demand-side pressure to improve performance under school choice. Moreover, given the greater sensitivity to school test scores among high-income and high-scoring youth, the marginal students attracted when a school improves performance would typically raise the average income and baseline test score at the school.

JEL Classification: I0, I20, I28

Suggested Citation

Hastings, Justine and Kane, Thomas J. and Staiger, Douglas, Parental Preferences and School Competition: Evidence from a Public School Choice Program (November 2005). Yale Economic Applications and Policy Discussion Paper No. 10. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=885537

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

Thomas J. Kane

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Public Policy & Social Research ( email )

Box 951656
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Douglas Staiger

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603-643-2979 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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