Economic Perspectives on School Choice

Authored by: Susanna Loeb , Jon Valant

Handbook of Research on School Choice

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815381464
eBook ISBN: 9781351210447
Adobe ISBN:


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Economics provides reasons for both optimism and caution with school choice reform. Basic economic theory suggests that subjecting schools to market pressure in the form of parents making educational choices for their children has the potential to provide efficient matches between what parents want and what schools provide. At the same time, economics warns of the destructive effects of market failures, and markets for schools exhibit many of these failures. Moreover, even if school choice markets efficiently match students with schools, they might not create matches that people find fair or equitable. This chapter examines school choice reforms from the perspective of economics. In doing so, it argues that how policymakers navigate questions about the three interrelated principles at the core of school choice reforms—choice, autonomy, and accountability—can define the ultimate success or failure of those reforms.

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