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2009 Documento de Trabajo #263

The Effectiveness of Private Voucher Education: Evidence from Structural School Switches

In this paper we analyze the effect of private voucher education on student academic performance using new data on Chilean students and a novel identification strategy. Most schools in Chile provide either primary or secondary education. We analyze the effect of private voucher education on students that are forced to enroll at a different school to attend secondary education once graduated from primary schooling –structural switches. Moreover the data set used in this paper contains information on previous academic achievement and thus allows us to identify differences in students’ unobservable characteristics. Using a number of propensity score based econometric techniques and changes-in-changes estimation methods we find that private voucher education leads to small, sometimes not statistically significant differences in academic performance. The estimated effect of private voucher education amounts to about 4 to 6 percent of one standard deviation in test scores. The literature on Chile based on cross sectional data had previously found positive effects of about 15 to 20 percent of one standard deviation.

JEL Classifications: I200, I210.

Bernardo Lara
Alejandra Mizala
Andrea Repetto

Publicado en: Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis Vol. 33 Nº 2 2011. pp. 119-137. (http://epa.sagepub.com/content/current).

Keywords: Chile., educational vouchers, school choice, school switches, student achievement