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Opting-out and income mixing in urban economies:the role of neighborhood effects

By Francisco Martínez Mora


Residence-based public education systems promote income segregation across neighborhoods or school districts (e.g. Epple and Romano, 2002). It has been argued that allowing private schools to enter the market may reduce the levels of income segregation because private education severs the link among school quality and place of residence for those using a private school. On the other hand, the socalled neighborhood effects constitute another segregating force in urban areas. We use a two-neighborhood model of an urban economy in order to study whether such externalities inhibit the desegregating effects of private education or not. The analysis reveals that they may indeed reduce or completely eliminate private education induced income mixing. This will happen if the best public school is located where neighborhood effects are most beneficial. However, it may also be the case that neighborhood effects promote the mixing of high income households using a private school with low income ones using a public school in the neighborhood providing the most beneficial neighborhood effects.residential mobility, segregation, neighborhood effects, school choice.

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