Richard Murnane, Sean Reardon, 31 August 2017

The distribution of private elementary school enrolments in the US has changed over the last half century. This column shows that, overall, fewer middle-class children are now enrolled in private schools. Non-Catholic religious schools play an increasing role in private school enrolments, and today serve more students whose family incomes are in the bottom half of the distribution than Catholic schools do. The increase in residential segregation by income in the US means that urban public schools and urban private schools have less socioeconomic diversity today than they had several decades ago.

Giuseppe Bertola, 11 July 2013

School voucher programmes that are meant to allow students who could not otherwise afford private schools to attend them are often hotly, and often emotionally, debated. This column presents findings based on the PISA survey of private education in 72 countries and regions. Evidence suggests that in countries with basic government-provided education, private schools occupy a high-quality market niche. Overall, the education policy menu should include improvement of public education standards as well as vouchers, which policymakers in countries with better public education should not adopt without considering their distributional and efficiency implications. While they can be beneficial, voucher schemes do not enhance overall equality of opportunities and efficiency in countries where governments supply high-quality education.

Ludger Woessmann, Martin West, 02 December 2010

Does private competition work in the schooling sector? This column presents evidence that countries with more privately operated schools perform substantially better on international tests of student achievement. To isolate the causal effect of private competition, the column focuses on variation in private school shares that has deep historical roots – Catholic opposition to state-run education systems in the 19th century.

David de la Croix, Matthias Doepke, 21 September 2007

How is the quality of public education affected by the presence of private schools for the rich? Theory and evidence suggest that the link crucially depends on the structure of the political system. A large private education sector can benefit public schools in a broad-based democracy where politicians are responsive to the needs of families using public schools, but leads to disastrous outcomes in a society that is politically dominated by the rich.

Events