Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research

No 3/2020: The Impact of Voucher Schools: Evidence From Swedish Upper Secondary Schools

Karin Edmark (), Iftikhar Hussain () and Carla Haelermans ()
Additional contact information
Karin Edmark: Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University, Postal: SOFI, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Iftikhar Hussain: Department of Economics, University of Sussex
Carla Haelermans: Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA), School of Business and Economics, Maastricht University

Abstract: Empirical studies investigating the impact of private voucher schools on student outcomes have focused on a number of mechanisms, including productivity and competitive effects. Arguably, the possibility that these voucher schools may provide greater variety, in terms of education options or tracks remains an understudied area. This paper exploits the rapid expansion of private academic and vocational track schools in Sweden, to address this question. We uncover new evidence that the introduction of private voucher schools induced greater vocational education participation, and not simply a substitution of public for private vocational schools. In effect, private school penetration lead to a switch away from academic tracks, including both science and social science, in favour of vocational options. We then ask what impact inducing greater participation in vocational education had on short- and medium-term outcomes, including GPA, on-time graduation from high school, university participation and field of study at university. We discuss other possible mechanisms, including changes in peer and teacher quality.

Keywords: private provision; independent schools; voucher school reform; vocational education; upper secondary education

JEL-codes: H44; I21; I26; I28

78 pages, April 16, 2020

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