Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Ratio Working Papers,
The Ratio Institute

No 330: Work Environment and Competition in Swedish Schools, 1999-2011

Abiel Sebhatu (), Karl Wennberg (), Erik Lakomaa () and Maria Brandén ()
Additional contact information
Abiel Sebhatu: Linköping University
Karl Wennberg: The Ratio Institute, Postal: The Ratio Institute, P.O. Box 5095, SE-102 42 Stockholm, Sweden
Erik Lakomaa: Stockholm School of Economics
Maria Brandén: Linköping University

Abstract: Research on schools’ work environment highlights socioeconomic conditions (SES) as primary drivers of work environment, but evidence to date is primarily limited to cross-sectional samples. Research on school competition has revealed important effects on educational outcomes, but effects on work environment are largely unknown. We bridge these literatures by studying the work environment in all Swedish junior high schools and high schools using detailed data on complaints and incidences of disorder, including violence. Comparing educational levels to gauge differences in degree of choice made possible by competition, we overall find more adverse work environment in junior high schools facing stronger school competition and with many low-SES students in either the school or the region. Conversely, we find better work environment in high schools facing stronger school competition, and in high schools with a large share of students with foreign background. To assess causal effects of competition on work environment we compare regions that introduced competition versus those that have not in a difference-in-difference framework. In such regions only complaints in high schools decrease after competition is introduced. We highlight the importance of including multiple measures of both competition and work environment.

Keywords: School competition; work environment; independent schools; public schools; voucher

JEL-codes: H40; I21; J28

55 pages, March 5, 2020

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