, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 153-172
Date: 15 Mar 2013

Does school ownership matter? An unbiased efficiency comparison for regions of Spain

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Abstract

The programme for international student assessment (PISA) 2006 Report (OECD, PISA 2006: science competencies for tomorrow’s world, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Paris in 2007) showed significant differences among Spanish students attending publicly financed schools. Publicly financed schools include entirely public schools and schools that are privately managed but publicly funded. Families with a lower socioeconomic status may self-select into public schools, so a direct efficiency comparison between the two school types could lead to flawed conclusions because of the possible school selection bias. In this paper, we suggest using a propensity score matching approach in order to correctly analyze the impact of school ownership on student performance. After tackling the self-selection problem, we use a stochastic parametric distance function framework to compare student efficiency and productivity in both school types across ten Spanish regions using PISA 2006 data. Furthermore, we propose two original measures to analyze the impact of school ownership on academic performance across regions: the average treatment effect on the treated on the production frontier and the average treatment effect on the treated assuming school inefficiency. We find that, on average, private government-dependent schools are more productive than public schools, although efficiency results across regions are highly divergent.