Does School Privatization Improve Educational Achievement?
Evidence from Sweden’s Voucher Reform
This paper evaluates general achievement effects of choice and competition between private
and public schools at the nine-year school level by assessing a radical voucher reform that
was implemented in Sweden in 1992. Starting from a situation where the public schools
essentially were monopolists on all local school markets, the degree of privatization has
developed very differently across municipalities over time as a result of this reform. We
estimate the impact of an increase in private enrolment on short, medium and long-term
educational outcomes of all pupils using within-municipality variation over time, and control
for differential pre-reform and concurrent municipality trends. We find that an increase in the
private school share moderately improves short-term educational outcomes such as 9thgrade
GPA and the fraction of students who choose an academic high school track.
However, we do not find any impact on medium or long-term educational outcomes such as
high school GPA, university attainment or years of schooling. We conclude that the first-order
short-term effect is too small to yield lasting positive effects.
Anders Böhlmark, SOFI, Stockholm University
Mikael Lindahl ,Uppsala University, IFAU and IZA
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