Do Parents Value School Effectiveness?
School choice may lead to improvements in school productivity if parents’ choices reward effective schools and punish ineffective ones. This mechanism requires parents to choose schools based on causal effectiveness rather than peer characteristics. We study relationships among parent preferences, peer quality, and causal effects on outcomes for applicants to New York City’s centralized high school assignment mechanism. We use applicants’ rank-ordered choice lists to measure preferences and to construct selection-corrected estimates of treatment effects on test scores, high school graduation, college attendance, and college quality. Parents prefer schools that enroll high-achieving peers, and these schools generate larger improvements in short- and long-run student outcomes. Preferences are unrelated to school effectiveness and academic match quality after controlling for peer quality.
We gratefully acknowledge funding from the National Science Foundation and the W. T. Grant Foundation. Thanks also go to Nikhil Agarwal, Josh Angrist, Stephane Bonhomme, David Card, David Chan, Michael Dinerstein, Will Dobbie, James Heckman, Peter Hull, Pat Kline, Thibaut Lamadon, Magne Mogstad, Jack Mountjoy, Derek Neal, Ariel Pakes, Stephen Raudenbush, Jesse Rothstein, Alex Torgovitsky, Miguel Urquiola, Jeffrey Wooldridge, Danny Yagan, Seth Zimmerman, and seminar participants at the University of Chicago Committee on Education Workshop, the University of Chicago Harris School, UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago Econometrics Lunch, the University of Chicago Interactions Conference, UW Madison, the 2017 NBER Labor Studies Fall meetings, the University of Virginia, the University of Hawaii, the University of Rochester, Princeton University, the University of Maryland, and Arizona State University for suggestions and comments. We’re grateful to Eryn Heying for invaluable administrative support. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Abdulkadiroglu is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Institute for Innovation in Public School Choice.Parag A. Pathak
Pathak is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Institute for Innovation in Public School Choice.
Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Parag A. Pathak & Jonathan Schellenberg & Christopher R. Walters, 2020. "Do Parents Value School Effectiveness?," American Economic Review, vol 110(5), pages 1502-1539.