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Heterogeneous effects of missing out on a place at a preferred secondary school in England

Emma Gorman and Ian Walker

Economics of Education Review, 2021, vol. 81, issue C

Abstract: Schools vary in quality, and high-performing schools tend to be oversubscribed: there are more applicants than places available. In this paper, we use nationally representative cohort data linked to administrative education records to study the consequences of failing to gain admission to one’s first-choice secondary school in England. Our empirical strategy leverages features of the institutional setting and the literature on school choice to make a case for a selection-on-observables identifying assumption. Failing to gain a place at a preferred school had null to small impacts on short-run academic attainment, but was associated with reductions in mental health and increased smoking rates in early in adulthood. In areas which deployed a manipulable assignment mechanism to allocate school places, we detected detrimental effects on high-stakes examination outcomes. Our results show that schools are important in shaping more than just test scores, and that the workings of the school admission system play a fundamental role in ensuring access to good schools.

Keywords: Education; School choice; Human capital; Market design; Risky behaviours (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D47 H44 I21 I24 J24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2021.102082

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