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Ranking the Schools: How Quality Information Affects School Choice in the Netherlands

By Pierre Koning and Karen van der Wiel

Abstract

This paper analyzes whether information on high school quality published by a national newspaper affects school choice in the Netherlands. For this purpose, we use both school level and individual student level data. First, we study the causal effect of quality scores on the influx of new high school students using a longitudinal school dataset. We find that negative (positive) school quality scores decrease (increase) the number of students choosing a school after the year of publication. The positive effects are particularly large for the academic school track. An academic school track receiving the most positive score sees its inflow of students rise by 15 to 20 students. Second, we study individual school choice behaviour to address the relative importance of the quality scores, as well as potential differences in the quality response between socio-economic groups. Although the probability of attending a school is affected by its quality score, it is mainly driven by the travelling distance. Students are only willing to travel about 200 meters more in order to attend a well-performing rather than an average school. In contrast to equity concerns that are often raised, we cannot find differences in information responses between socio-economic groups.school quality, school choice, information, media

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