Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 1472: Independent-School Competition and Sweden's Performance in TIMSS

Gabriel Heller-Sahlgren ()
Additional contact information
Gabriel Heller-Sahlgren: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: Stockholm, Sweden, and London School of Economics, UK

Abstract: This paper analyses the effects of independent-school competition on Sweden’s performance in TIMSS, an international low-stakes test in mathematics and science among students in year 8. Exploiting variation in independent-school enrolment shares across counties over time, it finds that increasing competition has improved TIMSS scores, an impact that appears only after 2003 and is driven by for-profit schools. The results suggest that competition both slowed down Sweden’s performance decline between 1995 and 2011 as well as contributed to its improving scores between 2011 and 2019. A simulation based on the estimates indicates that Sweden’s average score in TIMSS 2019 would have been 20 points, or 0.24 standard deviations, lower without the expansion of the independent-school sector.

Keywords: Independent-school competition; Student performance; TIMSS

JEL-codes: I20; L33

Language: English

37 pages, September 5, 2023

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