The Lessons Private Schools Teach: Using a Field Experiment to Understand the Effects of Private Schools on Political Behavior



Emmerich Davies, The University of Pennsylvania

Date and Time

May 25, 2016 11:00 AM - 12:15 PM



Open to the public.

RSVP required by 5PM May 24.


Goldman Conference Room

Encina Hall East, 4th floor

616 Serra St.

Stanford, CA 94305

About the Topic: Government services have often been found to act as important sites of political socialization.  Through interactions with institutions and functionaries of the state, individuals learn important lessons about their worth as citizens and the functioning of democracy.  What then happens when governments no longer provide basic services and are replaced by the private sector?  In the context of a large private school voucher experiment, I leverage the randomized distribution of private school vouchers to understand the impact of private schools on citizen's engagement with the state.  Based on an original household survey of 1,200 households conducted five years after a voucher lottery, I find that voucher winning households hold stronger market-oriented beliefs than voucher losing households.  Voucher winning households are willing to pay more for private services and express a preference for private service provision.  However, voucher winning households show no difference in political participation.  Evidence suggest that this is driven by a belief in private providers as permanent economic actors.  These results suggest economic preferences are malleable and exposure to different economic actors, in the form of private schools, have the potential to change them.

About the Speaker: Emmerich Davies is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania and will be joining the faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in July 2016.  His dissertation examines the growth of private elementary education in India. His work has been supported by the American Institute of Indian Studies Junior Fellowship, and the National Academy of Education and Spencer Foundation. In addition, Emmerich has a project with Tulia Falleti on local community political participation after the left turn in Bolivia and is beginning work on variation in education quality across India.

Share this Event