School Choice in California

Who Chooses Private Schools?

Published In: Journal of Urban Economics, v. 44, 1998, p. 110-133

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1998

by Richard Buddin, Joseph Cordes

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The school voucher debate has centered on the theoretical merits of allowing families greater choice between private and public schooling alternatives, but has provided few insights into how families currently choose between public and private schools. In this paper, the authors estimate a family-level model of private /public school choice for elementary and high school educational choice in California, using data from the 1990 census and supplementary information on California's public and private schools. The results suggest that the propensity of families to choose private schools is insensitive to out-of-pocket tuition costs, which implies that providing school vouchers would encourage few families to shift from public to private schools.

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