NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Does Choice Increase Information? Evidence from Online School Search Behavior

Michael F. Lovenheim, Patrick Walsh

NBER Working Paper No. 23445
Issued in May 2017
NBER Program(s):ED, PE

We examine whether changes in the local school choice environment affect the amount of information parents collect about local school quality, using data on over 100 million searches from greatschools.org. We link monthly data on search frequency in local “Search Units” to information on changes in open enrollment policies, tuition vouchers, charitable scholarship tax credits, tuition tax credits, local choice opportunities driven by No Child Left Behind sanctions and charter school penetration. Our results indicate that expansions in school choice rules and opportunities in a given area have large, positive effects on the frequency of searches done for schools in that area. These estimates suggest that the information parents have about local schools is endogenous to the choice environment they face, and that parental information depends not just on the availability of data, but also the incentive to seek and use it.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23445

 
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