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Is comprehensive education really free? A case study of the effects of secondary school admissions policies of house prices in one local area

By Dennis Leech and Erick Campos


This paper reports on a study that tests the anecdotal hypothesis that parents are willing to pay a premium to secure places for their children in popular and oversubscribed comprehensive schools. Since many local education authorities use admissions policies based on catchment areas and places in popular schools are very hard to obtain from outside these areas - but very easy from within them - parents have an incentive to move house for the sake of their children's education. This would be expected to be reflected in house prices. The study uses a cross sectional sample based on two popular schools in one local education authority area, Coventry. Differences in housing quality are dealt with by using the technique of hedonic regression and differences in location by sample selection within a block sample design. The sample was chosen from a limited number of locations spanning different catchment areas in order to reduce both observable and unobservable variability in nuisance effects while maximising the variation in catchment areas. The results suggest that there are strong school catchment area effects. For one of the two popular schools we find a 20 percent premium and for the other a 16 percent premium on house prices ceteris paribus

Topics: HC, LB1603
Publisher: University of Warwick, Department of Economics
Year: 2001
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:1597

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