The Political Economy of School Choice: Randomized School Admissions and Voter Participation

39 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)

Jeffrey Weinstein

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Date Written: April 2006

Abstract

We provide empirical evidence on the determinants of voter turnout using the randomized outcomes of a school choice lottery. We show that those losing the lottery to attend their first-choice school are significantly more likely to vote in the ensuing school board election than lottery winners. The effect of losing the school choice lottery on voting is highest among high-income families and among those who participated in prior elections. Aggregating the predicted turnout results up to the precinct level, we find evidence consistent with the hypothesis that losing the school choice lottery caused parents to vote against the incumbent school board chair, causing her to lose the election. These results have potentially important implications for political behavior: in order to maximize their chances of re-election, public officials may seek to minimize losses to high income residents and those with a history of voting rather than choosing welfare maximizing policies. The results also have important implications for the political viability of public school choice programs.

JEL Classification: D72, I28

Suggested Citation

Hastings, Justine and Kane, Thomas J. and Staiger, Douglas and Weinstein, Jeffrey, The Political Economy of School Choice: Randomized School Admissions and Voter Participation (April 2006). Yale Economic Applications and Policy Discussion Paper No. 11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=885546 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.885546

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

Jeffrey Weinstein

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ( email )

550 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20429
United States

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