Evaluating Education Programs That Have Lotteried Admission and Selective Attrition

Published in: Journal of Labor Economics, v. 32, no. 1, Jan. 2014, p. 27-63

Posted on RAND.org on December 29, 2015

by John Engberg, Dennis N. Epple, Jason Imbrogno, Holger Sieg, Ron Zimmer

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We study the effectiveness of magnet programs in an urban district that ration excess demand by admission lotteries. Differential attrition arises since students who lose the lottery are more likely to pursue options outside the school district than students who win the lottery. When students leave the district, important outcome variables are often not observed. The treatment effects are not point-identified. We exploit known quantiles of the outcome distribution to construct informative bounds on treatment effects. We find that magnet programs improve behavioral outcomes but have no significant effect on achievement.

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