Preferences and Heterogeneous Treatment Effects in a Public School Choice Lottery

44 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2006 Last revised: 9 Sep 2010

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)

Date Written: April 2006

Abstract

This paper combines a model of parental school choice with randomized school lotteries in order to understand the effects of being assigned to a first-choice school on academic outcomes. We outline a simple framework in which those who place the highest weight on academics when choosing a school benefit the most academically when admitted. Although the average student does not improve academically when winning a school lottery, this average impact conceals a range of impacts for identifiable subgroups of students. Children of parents whose choices revealed a strong preference for academic quality experienced significant gains in test scores as a result of attending their chosen school, while children whose parents weighted academic characteristics less heavily experienced academic losses. This differential effect is largest for children of parents who forfeit the most in terms of utility gains from proximity and racial match to choose a school with stronger academics. Depending on one's own race and neighborhood, a preference for academic quality can either conflict with or be reinforced by other objectives, such as a desire for proximity and same-race peers.

Suggested Citation

Hastings, Justine and Kane, Thomas J. and Staiger, Douglas, Preferences and Heterogeneous Treatment Effects in a Public School Choice Lottery (April 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12145. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=896217

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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