Consequences of Voucher Programs for Private Schools

Doctoral Dissertation


This dissertation contains two essays on the consequences of large-scale school voucher programs for private elementary and secondary schools. By altering the market for private schooling, large-scale school voucher programs may have effects on the educational experience of private school students beyond the effects of small-scale programs. In chapter one, I use eight large, state-level, voucher programs adopted between the late 1990s and mid-2000s and a unique dataset on school expenditures and teacher compensation to examine how the introduction of voucher programs affects the educational inputs (e.g. class sizes, instructional hours, per-student expenditures) students experience in private schools. I find that large-scale, voucher programs alter the inputs students experience in ways that tend to worsen the experience of black students while improving the experience of white students. These effects are driven by changes in inputs deployed at newly established schools. Back-of-the-envelope calculations indicate that the market effects of vouchers are large enough to substantially reduce the benefits of moving from public to private school for black students, reversing more than 100 percent of the gains in student-teacher ratio, 87 percent of the gain in per-teacher compensation, and 51 percent of the gain in instructional hours. My estimates suggest that extrapolation from prior studies may be inappropriate when considering how larger programs affect students.

In chapter two, which is coauthored with Daniel Hungerman, we explore how vouchers have affected the fiscal outcomes of private schools and the affordability of a private education. We find that subsidy programs created a large transfer of public funding to private schools, suggesting that every dollar of funding increased revenue by a dollar or more. Turning to the incidence of subsidies and the impact of subsidies on enrollment, our findings depend on the type of program introduced: programs that restrict eligibility to certain groups of students create relatively large enrollment gains but no change in price, while programs that offer unrestricted subsidies lead to price increases but no change in enrollment. We calculate elasticities of demand and supply for private schools, and discuss welfare effects.


Attribute NameValues
Author Kevin Rinz
Contributor William Evans, Committee Member
Contributor Daniel Hungerman, Research Director
Contributor Abigail Wozniak, Committee Member
Contributor James Sullivan, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Economics
Degree Name Doctor of Philosophy
Defense Date
  • 2016-04-05

Submission Date 2016-04-05
  • economics, education, public finance, school vouchers, subsidy incidence, class size, per-student expenditure, instructional hours

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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