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Issues in decentralizing the provision of education

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This paper analyzes some of the problems that arise in decentralizing education to the private sector. We concentrate on the difficulties that result from the heterogeneity of students and competition among schools in a location setting. We analyze two main issues, the resources expended by schools and the mix of students in schools, and report on results for two others, the location of schools and their number. For each of these, we investigate the extent to which decentralizing the provision of schooling results in an efficient allocation of resources, and consider the use of vouchers to improve the situation. Our analysis draws on elements of three distinct methodologies: the theory of clubs, location theory, and the theory of monopolistic competition. We find that private schooling will typically be inefficient, but that inefficiency may sometimes be corrected by appropriately designed vouchers.

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We would like to thank Olivier Debande, Jean-François Wen, two anonymous referees, and seminar participants at the 1st meeting of the Canadian Public Economics Study Group and the 51 st congress of the International Institute of Public Finance for helpful comments. Stefan Buergi and Luc Savard provided useful research assistance. We are also grateful to the SSHRCC and the FCAR for financial support.

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Boadway, R., Marceau, N. & Marchand, M. Issues in decentralizing the provision of education. Int Tax Public Finan 3, 311–327 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00418947

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Key words

  • education
  • decentralization
  • vouchers