Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 11:10 am

School Vouchers

Question A: If public school students had the option of taking the government money (local, state, federal) currently being spent on their own education and turning that money into vouchers that they could use towards covering the costs of any private school or public school of their choice (e.g. charter schools), most would be better off.

Responses
 

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Responses weighted by each expert's confidence

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Question B: The main drawback to allowing all public school students to take the government money (local, state, federal) currently being spent on their own education and turning that money into vouchers that they could use towards covering the costs of any private school or public school of their choice (e.g. charter schools) would be that some students would not make an active choice and would be left with much worse peers and a weaker school.

Responses
 

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Responses weighted by each expert's confidence

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Question A Participant Responses

Participant University Vote Confidence Comment Bio/Vote History
Acemoglu Daron Acemoglu MIT Uncertain 5
Too much uncertainty about equilibrium effects, though it is clear that public schools are failing and alternatives are necessary.
Bio/Vote History
         
Alesina Alberto Alesina Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Altonji Joseph Altonji Yale Uncertain 8
The evidence on whether private schools and public schools outperform public schools is mixed. Students could avoid the worst schools.
Bio/Vote History
         
Auerbach Alan Auerbach Berkeley Uncertain 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Autor David Autor MIT Uncertain 6
Worry: only families willing to supplement the public subsidy would get excellent education for their kids. This is what happens in Chile.
Bio/Vote History
         
Baicker Katherine Baicker Harvard Uncertain 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Bertrand Marianne Bertrand Chicago Agree 2
Bio/Vote History
         
Chetty Raj Chetty Stanford Uncertain 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Chevalier Judith Chevalier Yale Agree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Currie Janet Currie Princeton Uncertain 7
Not clear what the general eq. effects might be, especially if parents have difficulty assessing the quality of new schools.
Bio/Vote History
         
Cutler David Cutler Harvard Agree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Deaton Angus Deaton Princeton Disagree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Duffie Darrell Duffie Stanford Uncertain 2
For me, this is a complex subject, ripe with costs and benefits. I hope others have done the research necessary to be confident!
Bio/Vote History
         
Edlin Aaron Edlin Berkeley Disagree 6
For profit schools do not appear to be serving students that well. Some regulation of who can accept vouchers is desirable.
Bio/Vote History
         
Eichengreen Barry Eichengreen Berkeley Uncertain 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Fair Ray Fair Yale Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Goldberg Pinelopi Goldberg Yale Uncertain 6
MANY would be better off; but I don't know if "most" would be better off.
Bio/Vote History
         
Goldin Claudia Goldin Harvard Strongly Agree 9
Bio/Vote History
         
Goolsbee Austan Goolsbee Chicago Uncertain 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Greenstone Michael Greenstone Chicago Agree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Hall Robert Hall Stanford Agree 8
But see next Q for downside for some of the most disadvantaged students
Bio/Vote History
         
Holmström Bengt Holmström MIT Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Hoxby Caroline Hoxby Stanford Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Judd Kenneth Judd Stanford Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Kashyap Anil Kashyap Chicago Agree 7
Competitive pressure on bad schools to improve and the ability for some students to escape them would be valuable.
Bio/Vote History
         
Klenow Pete Klenow Stanford Agree 3 Bio/Vote History
         
Lazear Edward Lazear Stanford Agree 7
The main disadvantage to vouchers is potential weakening of public schools. But those that would lose students are terrible already.
Bio/Vote History
         
Levin Jonathan Levin Stanford Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Maskin Eric Maskin Harvard Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Nordhaus William Nordhaus Yale No Opinion
Bio/Vote History
         
Obstfeld Maurice Obstfeld Berkeley Uncertain 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Rouse Cecilia Rouse Princeton Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Saez Emmanuel Saez Berkeley Uncertain 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Scheinkman José Scheinkman Princeton Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Schmalensee Richard Schmalensee MIT Strongly Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Shin Hyun Song Shin Princeton Uncertain 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Stock James Stock Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Stokey Nancy Stokey Chicago Agree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Thaler Richard Thaler Chicago Agree 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Udry Christopher Udry Yale Agree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Zingales Luigi Zingales Chicago Agree 4
Bio/Vote History
         

Question B Participant Responses

Participant University Vote Confidence Comment Bio/Vote History
Acemoglu Daron Acemoglu MIT Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Alesina Alberto Alesina Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Altonji Joseph Altonji Yale Disagree 1
Evidence for charter schools and for private schools in the U.S.suggests that the cream skimming problem is manageable.
-see background information here
Bio/Vote History
         
Auerbach Alan Auerbach Berkeley Uncertain 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Autor David Autor MIT Disagree 6
That's one drawback but not necessarily the main one. I'm worried about equilibrium quality of schools that don't charge top-ups.
Bio/Vote History
         
Baicker Katherine Baicker Harvard Uncertain 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Bertrand Marianne Bertrand Chicago Agree 2
Bio/Vote History
         
Chetty Raj Chetty Stanford Agree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Chevalier Judith Chevalier Yale Agree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Currie Janet Currie Princeton Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Cutler David Cutler Harvard Agree 5
There are other possible drawbacks, but this is a large one.
Bio/Vote History
         
Deaton Angus Deaton Princeton Agree 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Duffie Darrell Duffie Stanford Uncertain 2
There is the stated cost, and there is the risk of poor active choices, as well as a risk of loss of social cohesion.
Bio/Vote History
         
Edlin Aaron Edlin Berkeley Disagree 1
Lots of parents would also make bad choices.
Bio/Vote History
         
Eichengreen Barry Eichengreen Berkeley Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Fair Ray Fair Yale Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Goldberg Pinelopi Goldberg Yale Agree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Goldin Claudia Goldin Harvard Strongly Agree 9
Bio/Vote History
         
Goolsbee Austan Goolsbee Chicago Disagree 7
more problematic are FCs @ pub schools they can't cover when cream skimming by start ups and the potential for good ones to be only for rich
Bio/Vote History
         
Greenstone Michael Greenstone Chicago Agree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Hall Robert Hall Stanford Agree 6
Also, as in some vocational schools now, fraudulent schools might return cash under the table to parents not concerned about their kids
Bio/Vote History
         
Holmström Bengt Holmström MIT Agree 6
The effect on mid and lower tail is hard to predict. Raising the level of the lower half is very important. Upper tail overemphasized in US.
Bio/Vote History
         
Hoxby Caroline Hoxby Stanford Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Judd Kenneth Judd Stanford Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Kashyap Anil Kashyap Chicago Strongly Agree 5
I see this as the main cost; it is not clear how long people would be trapped, but initially at least some undoubtedly would be worse off.
Bio/Vote History
         
Klenow Pete Klenow Stanford Agree 3 Bio/Vote History
         
Lazear Edward Lazear Stanford Disagree 6
Those most likely to be hurt are already in terrible schools. There are some others who might also be hurt, but probably not by much.
Bio/Vote History
         
Levin Jonathan Levin Stanford Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Maskin Eric Maskin Harvard Agree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Nordhaus William Nordhaus Yale No Opinion
Bio/Vote History
         
Obstfeld Maurice Obstfeld Berkeley Uncertain 4
This is one major cost but others are possible and it is unclear how to quantify them.
Bio/Vote History
         
Rouse Cecilia Rouse Princeton Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Saez Emmanuel Saez Berkeley Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Scheinkman José Scheinkman Princeton Strongly Agree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Schmalensee Richard Schmalensee MIT Agree 4
I am sure that is a drawback, but am less sure that it is the main one.
Bio/Vote History
         
Shin Hyun Song Shin Princeton Agree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Stock James Stock Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Stokey Nancy Stokey Chicago Uncertain 1
Bio/Vote History
         
Thaler Richard Thaler Chicago Agree 5
This problem is made worse if schools can be selective
Bio/Vote History
         
Udry Christopher Udry Yale Agree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Zingales Luigi Zingales Chicago Agree 7
Problem can be solved with vouchers that incentivate good schools to search and enroll underpivileged kids
-see background information here
Bio/Vote History
         

10 New Economic Experts join the IGM Panel


For the past two years, our expert panelists have been informing the public about the extent to which economists agree or disagree on important public policy issues. This week, we are delighted to announce that we are expanding the IGM Economic Experts Panel to add ten new distinguished economists. Like our other experts, these new panelists have impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters, and their names will be familiar to other economists and the media.

To give the public a broad sense of their views on policy issues, each new expert has responded to a selection of 16 statements that our panel had previously addressed. We chose these 16 statements, which cover a wide range of important policy areas, because the original panelists' responses to them were analyzed in a paper comparing the views of our economic experts with those of the American public. You can find that paper, by Paola Sapienza and Luigi Zingales, here. The paper, along with other analyses of the experts' views, was discussed during the American Economic Association annual meetings, and the video can be found here.

The new panelists' responses to these statements can be seen on their individual voting history pages. Our ten new economic experts are:

Abhijit Banerjee (MIT)
Markus K. Brunnermeier (Princeton)
Liran Einav (Stanford)
Amy Finkelstein (MIT)
Oliver Hart (Harvard)
Hilary Hoynes (Berkeley)
Steven N. Kaplan (Chicago)
Larry Samuelson (Yale)
Carl Shapiro (Berkeley)
Robert Shimer (Chicago)


Please note that, for the 16 previous topics on which these new panelists have voted, we left the charts showing the distribution of responses unchanged. Those charts reflect the responses that our original panelists gave at the time, and we have not altered them to reflect the views of the new experts.

We have also taken this opportunity to ask our original panelists whether they would vote differently on any of the statements we have asked about in the past. Several experts chose to highlight statements to which they would currently respond differently. In such cases, you will see this "revote" below the panelist's original vote. We think you will enjoy seeing examples of statements on which some experts have reconsidered.

As with the 16 previous statements voted on by new panelists, these "revote" responses are not reflected in the chart that we display showing the distribution of views for that topic: all the charts for previous questions reflect the distribution of views that the experts expressed when the statement was originally posed.

About the IGM Economic Experts Panel

This panel explores the extent to which economists agree or disagree on major public policy issues. To assess such beliefs we assembled this panel of expert economists. Statistics teaches that a sample of (say) 40 opinions will be adequate to reflect a broader population if the sample is representative of that population.

To that end, our panel was chosen to include distinguished experts with a keen interest in public policy from the major areas of economics, to be geographically diverse, and to include Democrats, Republicans and Independents as well as older and younger scholars. The panel members are all senior faculty at the most elite research universities in the United States. The panel includes Nobel Laureates, John Bates Clark Medalists, fellows of the Econometric society, past Presidents of both the American Economics Association and American Finance Association, past Democratic and Republican members of the President's Council of Economics, and past and current editors of the leading journals in the profession. This selection process has the advantage of not only providing a set of panelists whose names will be familiar to other economists and the media, but also delivers a group with impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters.

Finally, it is important to explain one aspect of our voting process. In some instances a panelist may neither agree nor disagree with a statement, and there can be two very different reasons for this. One case occurs when an economist is an expert on a topic and yet sees the evidence on the exact claim at hand as ambiguous. In such cases our panelists vote "uncertain". A second case relates to statements on topics so far removed from the economist's expertise that he or she feels unqualified to vote. In this case, our panelists vote "no opinion".

The Economic Experts Panel questions are emailed individually to the members of the panel, and each responds electronically at his or her convenience. Panelists may consult whatever resources they like before answering.

Members of the public are free to suggest questions (see link below), and the panelists suggest many themselves. Members of the IGM faculty are responsible for deciding the final version of each week’s question. We usually send a draft of the question to the panel in advance, and invite them to point out problems with the wording if they see any. In response, we typically receive a handful of suggested clarifications from individual experts. This process helps us to spot inconsistencies, and to reduce vagueness or problems of interpretation.

The panel data are copyrighted by the Initiative on Global Markets and are being analyzed for an article to appear in a leading peer-reviewed journal.

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