This article presents estimates of the effect of private school competition on public school performance. Using data on school districts in Georgia, the authors estimate models relating tenth- and third-grade test scores for either reading or mathematics to the level of private school competition. Test scores are not measurably or significantly higher in areas with greater private school competition, a result robust through multiple estimations using three measures of private school competition and a variety of control variables. The authors address the possible endogeneity between test scores and private school competition using instrumental variables estimators, with percentage of the population that is Catholic, county population in 1980, lagged competition, and various other measures as alternative instruments.
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