This article evaluates the impact of competition on the performance of Italian schools. The study is based on policy experiments developed in 2000 by the Lombardy Regional government which introduced a voucher plan to encourage families to enrol their children in private schools. After this intervention, many other Regions launched similar policies. Despite the high political attention to this theme in Italy, there is almost no economic research on the possible role of such policies in fostering competition, and on the effects of competition on schools’ outputs.
As there are not data collected by the Italian authorities for the purpose, the article uses the OECD-PISA 2006 dataset with some additional administrative information.
The empirical analysis shows that while some indicators of school competition have been found significant in – positively – affecting schools’ performances (in terms of student achievement), there is not strong evidence that voucher policies implemented in the Lombardy Region did improve school competition.