Revise and resubmit, Review of Economics and Statistics
NBER Working Paper W23870. Link to paper: [PDF]
Abstract: Governments are increasingly partnering with the private sector to improve the delivery of education. We contribute to this literature by evaluating a program that randomly assigned newly-created private schools to underserved villages in Pakistan. Private operators were given a per-student subsidy to provide tuition-free primary education in 200 villages, with half of them receiving a higher subsidy for female students. The program increased enrollment by 30 percentage points, and test scores by 0.63 standard deviations. Program impacts were similar across genders, and across the two subsidy treatments. Program schools were also found to be of higher quality than nearby government school. In contrast to the government school system where decision making is centralized, individual program-school operators could decide on school inputs, allowing an investigation into how efficiently they provided education in view of local conditions. Structural estimations of schooling demand and education production indicate that program schools selected inputs similar to those of a social planner who internalizes all the education benefits to society.
Authors: Felipe Berrera-Osorio, David S. Blakeslee, Matthew Hoover, Leigh L. Linden, Dhushyanth Raju, and Stephen P. Ryan