Heterogeneous effects of missing out on a place at a preferred secondary school in England

Gorman, Emma and Walker, Ian (2021) Heterogeneous effects of missing out on a place at a preferred secondary school in England. Economics of Education Review, 81. ISSN 0272-7757

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Schools vary in quality, and high-performing schools tend to be oversubscribed: there are more applicants than places available. In this paper, we use nationally representative cohort data linked to administrative education records to study the consequences of failing to gain admission to one’s first-choice secondary school in England. Our empirical strategy leverages features of the institutional setting and the literature on school choice to make a case for a selection-on-observables identifying assumption. Failing to gain a place at a preferred school had null to small impacts on short-run academic attainment, but was associated with reductions in mental health, increased fertility and increased smoking rates in early in adulthood. These effects were especially pronounced in areas which deployed a manipulable assignment mechanism to allocate school places, where we also detected detrimental effects on high-stakes examination outcomes. Our results show that schools are important in shaping more than test scores, and that the workings of the school admission system play a fundamental role in ensuring access to good schools.

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Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Economics of Education Review
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Economics of Education Review. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Economics of Education Review, 81, 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2021.102082
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29 Jan 2021 21:15
Last Modified:
19 Sep 2023 02:34