The Short and Long-Run Effects of Attending the Schools that Parents Prefer

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Aug 2022
Using meta-analysis we document that (across several contexts) attending sought-after public secondary schools does not tend to improve student test scores. We argue that this fact does not preclude the possibility that these schools could lead to gains in the future. We explore this notion using both administrative and survey data from Barbados. We show that preferred schools have better peers but do not improve short-run test scores. However, the same students at the same schools have more postsecondary school completion and improved adult well-being (based on an index of educational attainment, occupational rank, earnings, and health). These long-run benefits are larger for females, who also experience reduced teen motherhood.