Educational choice (vouchers) and social mobility

Charles F. Manski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


A quantitative approach to study the impact of vouchers is thought to yield more meaningful results than theoretical arguments. This paper makes use of a model of the behavior of young people and schools to simulate the effects of vouchers of varying sizes on students in different income categories, living in three communities - poor, average and wealthy - under two assumptions about how public schools spend their resources. The first assumption is that public schools minimize their offerings to individual students (i.e. maximize their surplus) in order to further objectives not valued by students. The second assumption is that public schools act as competitive firms, maximizing their educational offerings to individual students. Findings from the simulation are neither uniformly positive nor negative. They do not support the argument that poor young people will be better off with a voucher system. Even in the most favorable case - when public schools maximize surplus - a systemic choice system would not come close to equalizing educational opportunity across income groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-369
Number of pages19
JournalEconomics of Education Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Economics and Econometrics


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