We are grateful for support from the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and the World Bank. We thank participants at the CESifo/PEPG Conference on Economic Incentives for their comments, especially John Bishop. Research assistance was provided by Meghan Curtis, Amanda Starc and Sara Adler. We benefited from comments and suggestions from Beth King, Harry Patrinos and Sebastian Martinez.
Are Educational Vouchers Only Redistributive?*
Article first published online: 21 JUL 2010
© The Author(s). Journal compilation © Royal Economic Society 2010
The Economic Journal
Volume 120, Issue 546, pages F204–F228, August 2010
How to Cite
Bettinger, E., Kremer, M. and Saavedra, J. E. (2010), Are Educational Vouchers Only Redistributive?. The Economic Journal, 120: F204–F228. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0297.2010.02374.x
- Issue published online: 21 JUL 2010
- Article first published online: 21 JUL 2010
It is unclear if vouchers increase educational productivity or are purely redistributive, benefiting recipients by giving them access to more desirable peers at others’ expense. To examine this, we study an educational voucher programme in Colombia which allocated vouchers by lottery. Among voucher applicants to vocational schools, lottery winners were less likely to attend academic secondary schools and thus had peers with less desirable observable characteristics. Despite this, lottery winners had better educational outcomes. In this population, vouchers improved educational outcomes through channels beyond redistribution of desirable peers. We discuss potential channels which may explain the observed effects.